The five Greenbrier High School senior golfers pictured above are two men short.
The Athlete Spotlight is on Greenbrier High School golf team members Matthew Barman (from left), Patrick Crawford, Ben Johnson, Will Rogers and Paul Barnes.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Shane Williams and Daniel Hall died a little more than a year ago in a car wreck while on their way to a golf match in Lincoln County. Had they lived, the teens would be featured players on a golf team primed for the Region 3-AAAA tournament April 30 at Waynesboro Country Club.
The five seniors on the Wolfpack golf team - Will Rogers, Matthew Barman, Patrick Crawford, Paul Barnes and Ben Johnson - felt compelled to remember their friends by working to lead their squad to another regional championship.
"This year, those five guys have been the core of this team," Greenbrier golf coach Clint Woodfin said. "I told them up front, 'You five seniors have come this far, and we're going to win or lose with you at region. It's going to depend on you."'
To get ready, the golfers simply plan to play.
"Playing the course is going to be the best way for us to prepare," Barman said. "We're going to practice on it a few times and get used to it."
Barman, 18, and his brother Michael survived the wreck that killed their friends.
All of the seniors feel a responsibility to persevere for their friends' sake.
"We were more than just a team; we were all best friends," said Barnes, who is 17. "With that sort of motivating us, I think that has helped us in our golf game."
"I think we're all still hurting a little, but we feel good about our playing," 18-year-old Rogers said.
Regardless of their motivation, the Pack sports a winning record. They regularly put up good scores, and if one falters, the others are there to take up the slack.
"I think our chances in region are good, because we are a team," said Crawford, who is 18. "We can always look to one another to be there for us."
At the end of the season, what will matter most is the effort put forth.
"Shane and Daniel would just want us to do our best," 18-year-old Johnson said. "If we play hard and give it our best effort, they'll be happy."
After graduation, Rogers plans to attend Georgia Military College, and Barman will head to the University of Georgia. Crawford, Barnes and Johnson will attend Georgia Southern University. All five are undecided about whether they will play collegiate golf.
Woodfin says his golfers transcend the bounds of a team and have jelled into something more resembling kin, and that's more important than their golf careers.
"Ever since the accident, we've turned less into a team and a coach-player relationship and more into a family," he said. "Those five seniors, I have more respect for them than anybody. They mean a lot to me. They're five young men that I believe are going to do great things later in life."
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