Friday, November 6, 2015

McPeak Wins NCHSSA Scholar-Athlete Essay Contest

Meghan McPeak, a junior at Carrboro High School, won the North Carolina High School Athletic Association's (NCHSSA) fourth annual Scholar-Athlete Essay Contest for the female entrants.

The NCHSAA Scholar-Athlete program, sponsored by the North Carolina National Guard, recognizes excellence in the classroom, as well as on the playing court or field.  There were 65 submissions from 38 different North Carolina high schools.  Students-athletes had to submit a 400-word essay answering the question, "What challenge(s) have you overcome to develop as a Scholar-Athlete?"  One male and one female winner were selected from the entries.

McPeak, who is captain of the Women's Golf Team at CHS, wrote her essay on her choice to stop playing soccer after numerous injuries and to take up golf, learning to depend on her own mental toughness to overcome bad rounds versus playing as a team member in soccer.  Please see McPeak's entire essay below.

As the contest winner, McPeak received a Fitbit Flex fitness wristband and a gift pack from the NCHSAA.

Jordan Fitzpatrick of Carrboro High School, was a finalist in the male entries, but Garner Fleming of Eastern Alamance High School won that division.

"We have received excellent responses from our student-athletes regarding our NCHSAA Scholar-Athlete Essay Contests," said NCHSAA interim commissioner Que Tucker.  "Congratulations go to both Meghan and Garner, as they did an outstanding job with the essays they submitted."

McPeak also took ninth place at the North Carolina 1A/2A State Golf Tournament last month.

NCHSSA Application
by Meghan McPeak

I have always been a competitive athlete, playing multiple sports including soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, track, and most recently golf. Early on, I gravitated to soccer quickly excelling enough to make the top level club team and picked for the NC Olympic Development Program. However, my freshman year, I suffered three concussions. The last, was disabling enough to sideline me from the field, but more frightening caused problems academically.  I suffered headaches, blurred vision, trouble concentrating, focusing and difficulties reading. The room spun if I turned my head too sharply. I remember one of my coaches, Cindy Parlow, speaking about how concussions and chronic headaches had ended her career for the US team. I realized that I didn’t want to live the rest of my life with headaches.
For months after my resignation from the team, I experienced feelings of depression and loss. I would no longer be able to play a sport I loved and had played since age three. Then one day, my dad brought out the golf clubs. He reminded me that I had enjoyed myself at summer golf camps when I was younger. This would begin a perilous journey of constant practice, and devotion to a sport that was comparatively polar opposite of soccer.

Golf is a very different sport from soccer. I had to face an uphill battle with feeling hesitant and unconfident. It’s safe to say that during my freshman year, I was entirely unprepared for the mental toughness one needed to get through a round of golf. I had never had to compete on such an individual level. Moments of pure frustration and hopelessness would settle in rounds of poor performance, and I would realize that while I was on a team, I was essentially competing against myself and the course. Along with continuing to perfect my skill, I would also have to begin sharpening my mental toughness, so I could overcome bad rounds, and begin leading teammates on how to do the same.

Today in my junior year, I am a captain of the Carrboro High School’s varsity women’s golf team. Completing the NFHS captains course, I hope to instill in my teammates the same dedication and respect towards the game of golf, athletics, and the academic prospect that comes with being a student athlete. It is our team goal to continue to grow the golf program, and have community involvement.