Back-to-back Southern Foothillsâ€™ championships, three all-conference nods, two team MVPs and a top-10 finish in the state.
Thatâ€™s what golfer Will Campbell will take with him to Gardner-Webb University.
With Campbellâ€™s parents, Donna and Grady, along with North Lincoln Athletic Director Mark Lackey on hand, Campbell signed a National Letter of Intent to be a Bulldog Wednesday morning.
It wasnâ€™t like Campbell, who has earned a partial scholarship, just woke up and was a good golfer. Like any athlete, he sacrificed a lot and worked diligently on his game.
That meant, at times, â€œlivingâ€ at Verdict Ridge Country Club.
Hitting the links five-to-six times a week, Campbell honed his swing, becoming a 1A Western Regional runner-up and finishing sixth in the state.
â€œWill is a very dedicated player and loves the game of golf,â€ his mother Donna said, adding, â€œHeâ€™s worked really hard to get where he is and hopefully this is only a stepping stone.â€
Armstrong Atlantic State University, Appalachian State University and Southern Wesleyan all vied for his services, but in the end, Gardner-Webb won out â€”mainly for two reasons.
â€œBecause theyâ€™re Division 1 and itâ€™s fairly close to home,â€ Campbell said.
After being a team MVP at East Lincoln as a sophomore, Campbell departed with Mark Lackey to North Lincoln.
The coach Campbell calls â€˜a big motivatorâ€™ did not recruit him to become a Knight. Instead, Campbell just wanted to join him.
â€œWithout him in high school, I probably wouldnâ€™t have transferred to North Lincoln,â€ he said.
With back-to-back Top 10 team finishes in the state, Campbell continually had to work hard.
If he didnâ€™t, one of his teammates wouldâ€™ve slipped in to his No. 1 spot.
â€œYou definitely had to work hard to stay on top,â€ Campbell said.
And while Campbell may have many fond memories of his coach, Lackey is quick to return any praise.
â€œHis work ethic was so strong. He was one of those players that didnâ€™t peak out early,â€ he said. â€œWill always got better all four years. Will always knows what part of his game he needs to work on.â€
Lackey also raved about Campbellâ€™s practice habits.
â€œHe doesnâ€™t go out and just hit 100 drives. He knows how to practice and that was one of those things that got him where he is today, which is playing college golf,â€ he added.
Just because Campbellâ€™s high school career is over doesnâ€™t mean heâ€™s taken a break.
As recently as May, he shot a 73 in the U.S. Open Qualifier of the United States Golfing Association.
With Gardner-Webb waiting in the wings, Campbell is dreaming of even bigger things in the future â€” the PGA.
â€œItâ€™s nice to know that after high school, your career is not over; to see that in college you can even take it to the next level,â€ Campbell said.
For now, the PGA will have to wait. There is the challenge of balancing academics and time out on the course.
While the classroom shouldnâ€™t be a problem, his work ethic being so prominent, Campbell knows collegiate competition will be tougher.
â€œSeeing if I can compete with other Division 1 golfers, I expect it (the adjustment) to be definitely huge compared to high school,â€ he said
Thatâ€™s come August. For now, Campbell is especially thankful for his two biggest supporters â€”his parents.
â€œWithout them, I couldnâ€™t have gotten to where I am now without their support and their backing,â€ he said.
Things came full circle for Campbell. After being MVP for the Mustangs, under Lackey, he repeated by becoming team MVP for the Knightsâ€”also under Lackey. Chris Dean / LTN Photo
by John Mark Brooks