LAKE FOREST — Athletes don’t always control when their number will be called. Where they wield authority is in how they prepare.
At the Class 3A state golf tournament Friday and Saturday, Lake Forest senior Sean Casey was unexpectedly called into service. And he was ready.
After winning its sectional, Lake Forest sent a team to The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington for the state tournament. Coach Jim Matheson planned to use the same sectional-winning lineup of seniors Quinn Gaughan, Mac Montagne, Jack Garrity and Alex Georges, along with sophomore Elliot Georges and freshman Scott Frevert for the state tournament.
“Winning our sectional gave us a lot of confidence,” Garrity said.
After a practice round Oct. 16, the team stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Bloomington. Later in the evening, golfers and coaches gathered for a team meeting inside a room shared by Garrity and Montagne.
Casey, one of two Scouts alternates for the tournament, began to speak.
“I talked about attitude and keeping your head up and thinking about effort,” said Casey, who wrote his speech on the bus ride down to Bloomington that morning.
The next morning, a group of Scouts left the hotel for an early tee time. Casey slept in, with plans to leave with another group scheduled to tee off at 9:20 a.m. Before he left the hotel, he remembered one important piece of gear.
“I happened to bring my clubs just on the chance someone played [poor] Friday,” Casey. “I wanted to practice.”
He arrived at the course at 8:45 a.m. As soon as he walked off the bus, Casey was greeted by assistant coach Ray Del Fava. He had urgent news.
“[Del Fava] got a call from coach Matheson who said, ‘Tell Sean to get ready to play. Scott [Frevert] hurt his back during warmups,’ ” Casey said. “I put my shoes on and starting hitting putts.”
A few weeks before, Casey had played in a three-day, 36-hole playoff to decide the sectional lineup. He did not play well and sat out sectionals.
“That was disappointing and mentally frustrating for me to go through,” Casey said.
But he kept practicing and stood by his teammates.
After Casey failed to make the Scouts’ sectional lineup, his father gave him a note. The contents were about attitude and rebounding from adversity. Casey used the note as the basis for his Oct. 16 speech.
Little did he know he was talking about himself.
On Friday, Casey fired a six-over par 78. Montagne’s 74 led the team. On Saturday, Casey carded another 78. Alex Georges’ score of 75 was one better than Gaughan (76). Montagne also fired a 78 while Garrity shot an 80 and Elliot Georges an 82. As a team, Lake Forest finished 45-over par for the two days, good for sixth place (Hinsdale Central won at 9-over par).
Montagne’s 36-hole score of 152 was the team’s best individual finish and good for a five-way tie for 17th. Casey was four shots back in a six-way tie for 33rd.
No matter what the future holds for Casey, he will always have the memory of stepping up when his name was called.
“It was a big bonus to have him on short notice to come in and do that,” Garrity said.
Added Casey: “I was thrilled to have the opportunity to play. It was a crazy turn of events.”