Sturgeon Bay High School graduate and University of Wisconsin-Madison freshman John Parent was recently awarded the county’s first Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship. Parent is one of 865 current or incoming college students in the nation to receive this highly coveted scholarship that covers full tuition and housing costs each year until graduation.
Two years ago, Door County’s first golf caddie program was established at Horseshoe Bay Golf Club in which Parent was employed during his high school summers. By being a regular and successful caddy for those two years and having the golf club sponsor him, Parent was able to meet the final of four requirements in order to apply. He had satisfied the other three requirements: maintaining excellent academics, demonstrating financial need, and proving to be outstanding in character, integrity and leadership.
“This is the best college scholarship out there. I am so thrilled for John in so many ways!” said Tony Smith, Parent’s high school golf coach and assistant swim coach at Sturgeon Bay. “He is an absolute class act, yet humble.”
The Evans Scholarship program was established by and named after professional golfer Charles “Chick” Evans (1890-1979) in an effort to aid golf caddies with their continuing education. The first Evans Scholarship was awarded in 1930 at Northwestern University in Illinois. Currently, 19 universities participate in this program that is mainly concentrated in the Midwest, two of which are located in Wisconsin, UW-Madison and Marquette. Over the years, the Evans program which is sponsored by the Western Golf Association (WGA) has grown immensely and is currently one of the largest privately funded college scholarship programs boasting over 9,000 graduates.
After applying, meeting the qualifications and the initial interview, Parent then had a final interview in Wauwatosa at Blue Mound Country Club. There he was asked questions in front of approximately 100 WGA members, a collection of some of the state’s most influential people in the golf world, all dressed in their signature blazers.
“It was a little intimidating,” admitted Parent. “But it was nice to see a few familiar faces; that helped me to calm down a bit.” Parent’s interview proved to be a success, and he was notified of receiving the scholarship the next day.
Along with outstanding high school accolades as a quarterback in football and a swimmer who competed at state, Parent was also named First Team All-Conference three years in golf. It was during his high school golf career that he learned of the Evans Scholarship through Luxemburg-Casco golf coach, Bill Ehrens. A former Evans Scholar himself, Ehrens has helped over 30 caddies receive the Evans Scholarship through Northbrook Country Club.
“He and Tony Smith got me thinking about the scholarship,” stated Parent about Ehrens. “But I couldn’t apply because there weren’t any caddy programs in Door County.”
After a handful of persistent Horseshoe Bay club members pushed for the caddy program, it became established as the county’s first and is currently maintained by Head Golf Professional Pete Mogg.
“By John being the first to get this scholarship, he has paved the way for other kids,” said Mogg.
“Once you show people that you can reach the top, it gives other kids hope,” agreed Smith. “That’s why John is so perfect for this scholarship. He could have possibly got an athletic scholarship, but his passion was education. He pursued it, and he ended up getting the best scholarship of all!”
Parent credits his family for their support; although, he admits, “My dad is starting to play a little bit, but I’m really the only one in my immediate family that plays golf.”
Parent also credits many people in his life for mentoring him through his high school years, one of them being former UW-Madison and Green Bay Packer quarterback, Randy Wright. Wright was not only Parent’s assistant football coach at Sturgeon Bay but also a Horseshoe Bay member that frequently enlisted Parent’s services as a caddy.
“I would caddy for him at all the important tournaments,” stated Parent. “He was very influential and helped me along the way. He even helped me start my own business.”
As a high school student, Wright guided Parent in starting his own entrepreneurial endeavor, Sweet Tooth Vending LLC, a small bulk candy operation that he continues to maintain on his regular visits home.
“John is one of those guys that when you first meet him, you know he’s going to be successful,” stated Mogg regarding one of his top caddies. “He has a great attitude towards work, but also towards life in general. He’s very hard-working, very dedicated.”
While Parent is taking general classes as a freshman, he aspires to double major in business and communications.
“Sports broadcasting would be my dream job,” stated Parent.
When reflecting on how his new scholarship will affect his post college years, Parent commented, “The financial part is huge. Being able to graduate from college debt free is a tremendous advantage when starting a career.”
Next year, Parent looks forward to living in the Evans Scholarship house on the UW campus. Owned and maintained by the scholarship program, the house is home for 70 other male and female caddy/ students.
“One of the best things about being an Evans Scholar is the social networking, the friendships and connections that you make,” said Parent.
With Parent being the first Door County Evans Scholar, he hopes to open the door for other potential caddies. Come summer, he will return to his sponsoring club of Horseshoe Bay to aid Mogg in recruiting, and training new caddies and to encourage others to follow in his footsteps.
“That’s one of things that means the most to me,” stated Parent. “I’m the first one from Door County to get this scholarship. I would like to think that I kind of started a legacy.”