GREENVILLE — Jeron Collins has a gift.
He knows it. His coach knows it. And so does his father.
Earlier this year, Collins, a member of the Greenville-Weston High golf team, was named the Most Valuable Player on the squad. It wouldn’t be an unusual accomplishment, except for the fact that Collins is a seventh-grader.
“He picked up the sport about three years ago, and I saw certain shots he was hitting....He has a God-given talent,” said the star athlete’s father, Kirk Collins.
Jeron’s golf coach Claude Courtney also considers the youngster to be a extraordinary talent, who will most likely end up playing on the next level.
But there’s one problem: Jeron’s chances of playing on the college level may take a huge hit if the Greenville Public School District is forced to eliminate or suspend golf and several other sports due to lack of funding.
“We have some kids who can’t play basketball or football, but they excel in other sports,” said the elder Collins. “If you can’t play those sports, how can you get a scholarship?”
Jeron is one of many student-athletes in the Greenville School District who may see their sport axed in the coming weeks if the final budget is insufficient.
But, according to Superintendent Harvey Franklin, desperate times call for desperate measures.
“We can’t support all sports at this economic time,” said Franklin Thursday afternoon. “We have to make some choices.”
Franklin said the first responsibility of the district is to educate students.
“I have to put more money on academics,” he explained. “We have to sustain that.”
Kirk Collins said he understands the predicament Franklin is in and knows he has some tough decisions to make.
“You can’t fault the superintendent because he has to keep everything going,” said Collins. “....They have to do what they have to do. Their hands are tied.”
Still, Collins explained that the sport of golf teaches athletes about life, not just athletics.
“You learn a lot about teamwork, etiquette and being quiet in certain situations,” said Collins, who said he picked up the sport three years ago.
Collins also stated that high school students should give some of the non-traditional sports a shot. In some instances, students have a better opportunity in turning pro in golf than they would in basketball or football.
“The chances of you being a pro basketball or football player are like 1 in 800 million,” said Collins. “While in golf colleges are giving away (golf) scholarships. College coaches always call high schools to see what kind of talent they have."