By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Harrison Martin soon will be making a name for himself in the collegiate golfing ranks.
The Westbrook Christian senior signed a scholarship with the University of North Alabama on Nov. 13.
Martin, who has been a starter on the WCS golf team since the seventh grade, helped the Warriors win the Class 3A state championship this past May in Mobile.
“I’ve been playing competitively in golf since I was eight years old and playing golf in college is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Martin. “Me and (Westbrook teammate) John Hilliard Catanzaro grew up playing together and we always said that we wanted to win state as a team, and that’s what we did. It was an incredible feeling, and hopefully we can repeat this year. We think we can do it, so we’re excited.”
Westbrook finished third in the state when Martin was an 8th grader and tied for second place in 2014, when he finished in a four-way tie for individual second place.
Martin, who also played basketball for the Warriors, focused his athletic attention on golf entering his freshman year.
“I love all sports, but I figured that I’d stick to one sport and see where it took me,” he said. “It paid off.”
Martin’s list of individual accomplishments on the links includes a first place finish in the Gadsden Country Club Junior Championship in 2013 and 2012; a first place finish in 2013 and second place finish in 2012 in the Etowah County Championship and a first place finish in the Dixie PGA Junior Championship Qualifier in 2013.
Martin’s uncle played golf for UNA and asked Lions coach Jason Vaughn to gauge his nephew’s potential starting as a seventh grader.
“I finally won an individual tournament back in August (the TPC Sawgrass in Jacksonville, Fla.), and that probably was what sealed the deal,” said Martin, who plans on majoring in biology with the intention of attending veterinary school. “I went on my official visit and Coach Vaughn offered me a scholarship a few weeks later.”
The Lions, who currently are ranked 11th in the NCAA Division II rankings, play their home matches primarily at The Shoals and Cypress Lakes courses in Muscle Shoals.
Westbrook golf coach Misti Fairchild noted that Martin has played from the No. 1 spot since she took over the program.
“Harrison’s a fantastic person and a hardest-working kid I know,” she said. “Even when we don’t have practice, he’s there. Early in the morning or when I play golf for fun on the weekend, he’s there. He’s also a good leader who was our captain last year. He did a fine job and I’m sure he’ll be elected as such this year. He’s also going to an excellent school in North Alabama.”
Fairchild pointed to the willingness of Martin and his fellow upperclassmen to work with the program’s youngsters as an important ingredient of a championship team.
“Someone who is a senior like Harrison who thinks nothing of taking out a seventh grader to play on his own time and encouraging and training him is something that happens a lot with us and is something that doesn’t happen on a lot of teams.”
Along with Martin, Fairchild has high expectations for both Westbrook golf teams this coming spring. The Lady Warriors finished runner-up to Glencoe last season.
“I hope that our boys and girls can sweep [the state tournament],” she said. “Even though we lost four good senior girls and two good senior boys, the talent that’s coming up is very capable of filling those shoes.”