Trio of seniors earn college scholarships through caddying – Natural Self Esteem

When Vin DeFeo learned he was receiving a Westchester Evans scholarship, the Shelton High senior had a certain feeling.

“It was a sigh of relief,” DeFeo said. The Evans scholarship allows him to go to Penn State in the fall. More specifically, it was a scholarship he earned by caddying in golf. It was also the completion of hard work toward a lofty but achievable goal.

DeFeo is one of three area high school seniors who have been awarded Westchester Evans scholarships. Bridgeport’s Aliyah Thompson and Chase Wirth, who recently moved to Milford from Trumbull, are the others. Both Thompson and Wirth will continue their education next fall in Miami, Ohio.

“We all worked hard for something and we all got the same thing. It’s really special,” DeFeo said.

These are full four-year scholarships that are awarded not only to those who have spent significant time as a caddy but also have excellent academic record.

“It’s amazing that two of my fellow caddies are also receiving the scholarship,” Thompson said. “I am happy to say that I am not the only one at Brooklawn (Country Club in Fairfield) to receive this wonderful blessing. We can now celebrate together all of the hard work and all of our accomplishments throughout our high school years.”

All three are caddies at Brooklawn CC, a big supporter of the Westchester Golf Association’s Caddy Scholarship Fund, which has a partnership with the Western Golf Association’s Evans Scholars Foundation. The WGA has operated the foundation since 1930. A total of 300 scholarships were awarded nationwide for the 2021/22 academic year.

“To have two of my fellow caddies at Brooklawn also receive the Evans Scholarship is pretty incredible. It was a great opportunity for all of us and it was encouraging to have her by my side,” Wirth said.

According to a press release, the Evans grants are worth an estimated $120,000 over four years. The scholarship was founded by Charles “Chick” Evans Jr., an amateur golfer who was from the Chicago area.

Brooklawn CC previously had eight junior caddies who received Evans scholarships. This is something the club is proud of, according to longtime member Pat McCormack, himself a former Brooklawn CC caddy.

“Brooklawn was a flagship club for the Evans Scholarship,” McCormack said. “We support the program. We are one of the few clubs in Connecticut that has a very active and vibrant caddy program. We are very proud of this.”

McCormack said the application process begins around August 1 each year and ends in October. There are four different criteria that each candidate must meet in order to qualify.

The first is having worked as a caddy for at least two years at a club that is performing well. The second is to have an excellent academic record. The third criterion is a financial need and the fourth is character references during the process.

“Kids know in advance that the application process for qualifications is rigorous,” McCormack said.

Said DeFeo, “I graduated my junior year with above a B average. I had to write an essay explaining why I think (he should be a fellow). I did mention that everyone (at Brooklawn) was really supportive.”

Thompson, who attends Bridge Academy in Bridgeport, said balancing her schoolwork with meeting the scholarship application deadlines was not easy. When he became a finalist, Thompson was interviewed by a committee that selected the grantees.

“The process was nerve-wracking because I didn’t know what to expect at the end, but everything went perfectly,” said Thompson.

Wirth “found the most stressful part of the interview with the WGA.” He was accepted into the Farmer School of Business in Miami, Ohio and intends to major in business administration. Thompson intends to study political science to become a lawyer.

DeFeo “wants to get into the business side” of golf and focus on professional golf management. All three will continue to be caddies at Brooklawn CC and hopefully help encourage someone to consider applying for an Evans Scholarship in the future.

“I would tell them to work extremely hard,” DeFeo said. “It takes hard work to be good at both school and caddy. There are obstacles to contend with, but it’s worth it in the end.”

Thompson said, “I can’t forget where I started and I have to give back to the community that gave me this opportunity. I want to help (others) just like me to get this scholarship too.”; @nhrJoeMorelli

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