Hard work pays off in scholarships for Roaring Fork Valley golf caddies
The Aspen Times
Hot summer days on golf courses and good grades in high school paid off in a big way for four students from the Roaring Fork Valley this month.
The four were among 14 students in Colorado who were selected for a Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Three of the students were caddies at the Roaring Fork Club in Basalt. The fourth was the first Evans Scholarship winner from Aspen’s Maroon Creek Club, according to the Western Golf Association.
There have been 13 winners overall from the Roaring Fork Club in about a dozen years, but this was the first time three won in the same year, according to Greg Bryan, the head golf professional.
“We’re so pleased. At the end of the day, it’s about the kids,” he said.
Regardless of whether they had won, all three applicants are outstanding young adults, Bryan said.
The winners from the Roaring Fork Club were Kyle Bruna, a senior at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, and Alexandra Revilla Serrano and Tim Johnson, both seniors at Basalt High School.
Audrey Sichel, a senior at Aspen High School, was the winner from the Maroon Creek Club.
The scholarships will cover their tuition and education-related expenses at CU, plus their room at the CU Evans Scholars House, the golf association said.
Johnson said he started working as a caddie at the Roaring Fork Club when he was 13. The club was one of the few employers that provided an opportunity for kids younger than 14 to work, he said.
Johnson said he was grateful for the experience because he learned the value of hard work as a caddie and gained values that helped shape his character.
Revilla said she enjoyed meeting people she normally wouldn’t have met while working three summers at the Roaring Fork Club. Working outside and experiencing the outdoors was definitely better than getting stuck behind a computer or a counter at an inside job, she said.
The caddies had to fill out lengthy applications, get good grades in school and have their clubs provide documentation of high caddie performance. They also had to work a minimum of 50 loops or rounds during their careers. That was no problem for the Roaring Fork Club trio.
Bryan estimated Bruna has 130 loops going into this summer and Johnson has 110 to 120. Both young men were so eager to work that they almost had to be sent home, Bryan quipped.
“They’d go morning, afternoon and evening,” he said.
Revilla estimated she caddied about 80 loops. While it is a requirement that scholarship winners continue to caddie in coming summers while they are in college, if possible, Revilla said she would continue because she enjoys it, not because she must.
The applicants had to provide letters of reference from club members they caddied for, and, in probably the most nerve-racking step, they were interviewed by a selection panel in front of 140 onlookers at Cherry Hills Country Club earlier this month.
Revilla said she eventually was thinking of the scholarship after she worked as a caddie for a while and learned about the opportunity. However, she never assumed she would earn one, even after going through the application and interview process.
“I was kind of uncertain,” Revilla said. “There are so many applicants around the nation.”
There were more than 40 from Colorado, according to the Western Golf Association, which works with the Colorado Golf Association and the Colorado Women’s Golf Association to award the scholarships in Colorado.
After the selection interview, the applicants were told they would be notified by the following Thursday whether they would receive a scholarship. Her family was surprised to get a letter three days earlier, on a Monday, that informed her that she had earned the scholarship.
“You can’t describe it in words,” Revilla said.
Without the award, she said she would have looked at less expensive options such as Colorado Mountain College or Colorado Mesa University.
“It’s a one-time opportunity that I can’t pass by,” Revilla said. She plans to study chemical engineering.
Johnson said he was all nerves when he received his letter.
“I couldn’t read the letter out loud to my parents because my voice was shaking so much,” he said.
He plans to study biological sciences with the goal of preparing for medical school.
Johnson said he couldn’t thank the Roaring Fork Club enough for the opportunities that were opened to him from being a caddie.
Bryan said in any given summer there are 20 to 25 new student-caddies and at least 35 including those who return. The Roaring Fork Club was founded in the late 1990s with the idea of urging members to enlist caddies, though they have the option of walking and carrying their own bags or using a golf cart. Many members welcome the chance to engage Basalt youngsters, Bryan said.
The student-caddies learn a lot from the interaction with the adults, and they definitely learn that“hard work makes you money,” Bryan said.
Bob Johnson, Tim’s dad, said the chance to work at the club as a caddie is often like a mentorship, as members bond with the Basalt kids. It’s a valuable lesson for the kids and teaches them about hard work. Earning the scholarship was icing on the cake.
“We’re very humbled by it.” Johnson said. “They earned it, no doubt about it. There’s a lot of hard work and sweat that goes into it.”