Athlete of the Week: White filling new role for Sharks

sjgolf-whiteputtSt. James golfer Jordan White was a bit surprised to be voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week. She had no idea of the surprises that were yet to come the following week.

After winning the honor and going the painful procedure of having her wisdom teeth removed, she shot a respectable nine-hole 39 playing on the Lady Sharks’ new home course of Wachesaw Plantation for the first time. The next day, White aced the 120-yard first hole at Wachesaw and went on to claim medalist honors with a 36 – not a bad encore for the junior who suddenly finds herself in the role of a leader for the defending state champions.

“When we lost Kelli (Smith) and Steely (Hays) off last year’s state championship team, it was a big blow not just in golf but also for me personally. They were two of our top five (players), they had been on the team since I started as a seventh grader, so it was like losing two teammates and two of my best friends,” said White.

White was recently thrust into the leadership role when No. 1 player Smith Knaffle missed the Aynor Lady Blue Jacket Invitational to play in a top junior event. White shot back-to-back 82s to lead the Lady Sharks to a second-place finish, and she followed it up at the Palmetto Preview by firing a 75 to go with Knaffle’s 72 – good for another runner-up showing for the young team.

“We definitely have some strong younger girls and they’re really doing a great job for us, but I knew I was going to have to step it up this year,” White said. “I’m actually the oldest one on the team so it’s definitely a change, but it sort of comes naturally to me. I also play basketball and soccer so I’ve always been a part of sports leadership. But our girls are great so it hasn’t been a challenge.”

White brings the team concepts she learned on the hoops hardwood and soccer pitch to the links, encouraging younger players and longtime teammates to improve. She first picked up golf in kindergarten, tagging along with her father to play for fun with his friends, which is exactly how she approaches the game of golf. She also plays individual tournaments and has the scores and the grades to attract college recruiters.

“As far as my favorite sport, it depends on the season, but golf is my best game and the one I really want to pursue,” said White, who finished fourth in a summer Carolinas Junior PGA tournament at Seabrook Island, and currently ranks fourth in her class academically. “I’m hoping to keep getting better and keep my grades up so I can get an academic and athletic scholarship.”

But first White hopes to bring at least one more state title to the St. James trophy case, and she knows her play and leadership will go a long way toward determining their fate. Their two runner-up finishes came at the hands of fellow state power Lexington so the Lady Sharks have their work cut out for them to repeat.

“I think it’s good for us to have these other teams out there pushing us to work hard and keep our focus, plus we’re friends with the girls at Lexington so it’s fun for us to try to overcome them,” White said. “Obviously the goal is to win state, but we can’t do that at these earlier matches and tournaments. We just have to keep our focus on getting better before the state tournament.”

Don’t be surprised if White has more good weeks ahead.

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