Monday, January 13, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers swinging for CBS

Leader sportswriter

Cabot High School senior Marlena Weatherly chose her college destination Friday, signing her NCAA national letter of intent to resume her golf career at Central Baptist College in Conway.

Weatherly has been a standout on the Cabot High School girls’ golf team since her sophomore year, and ever since her junior season, CBC Mustangs’ golf coach Lyle Middleton has had his eye on Weatherly’s game.

“In the last two years, we’ve really watched a lot of the high school kids coming out,” said Middleton. “Just her drive and desire to be a very competitive player, and just her golf game has really promoted her and her ability.”

Other than her stellar short game, Middleton was also impressed with Weatherly’s cool demeanor on the course, as well as her constant desire to improve all aspects of her game.

“She just has that drive,” Middleton said. “She doesn’t let her emotions get involved in her game like a lot of kids do. Most kids her age you can tell when they’re struggling, but Marlena’s the opposite. You can’t tell if she’s 10 over or one or two under.

“She’s able to keep a level demeanor with how her game’s going through 18 holes. That’s hard to teach kids, especially in golf.”

Most of the schools that were looking at Weatherly came from out of state, and even though the idea of playing outside the state had its appeal, Weatherly ultimately decided she wanted to stay closer to central Arkansas.

“I thought that I wanted to go out of state,” Weatherly said, “then I realized I wanted to stay more to the central area and stay closer to home.

“I played AWGA (Arkansas Women’s Golf Association) and ASGA (Arkansas State Golf Association). They’ve given me the opportunity to play in the central part of the state and I thought I should stay more central and give back to them because they really helped me grow as a golfer.” 

The idea of playing closer to home was appealing for Weatherly, but she also wants to teach the sport after her competitive playing days are over, and she said Middleton assured her he’d do all he could to help her down that path, as long as she came and played for him and the Mustangs Women’s golf team, of course.

“Coach Middleton was a big deciding factor,” Weatherly said. “He basically told me whatever I wanted to do in life he would help me, and I really want to teach golf. So when I told him that, he said if that’s what you want to do then I’ll help you achieve your goal.”

During her career with the Lady Panthers, Weatherly was an All-Conference selection as a sophomore, and was an All-State and All-Conference selection as a junior and senior.

This past season, Weatherly finished runner-up in the class 7A state tournament.

Her AWGA team won the Tunica National Junior Girls Tri-State Golf Championships last summer, a tournament between the top golfers at the junior level in the states of Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.