By Larry Moko
The St. John Henry Newman golf team is about to go for gold when it goes for the green.
Champions of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league and a second-place finisher at last week’s Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference tournament, Newman has qualified for the sport’s OFSAA tournament for the first time in school history.
The Cardinals team entry will be shooting for an elusive provincial high school medal Oct. 13-14 in Bolton at the Glen Eagle Golf Course.
“Considering that three weeks ago we didn’t have a Newman Golf Team, to be in this position, I’m really happy and proud about we accomplished,” Cardinals Grade 12 student Enzo Cirone said. “My goal since coming to Newman in Grade 9 was to make this team, and help Newman bring home a first golf championship (city). It’s incredible that we’ve achieved that goal.”
Cirone carded an 83 when the GHAC event was held at Piper’s Heath in Milton. That ranked as the sixth-best individual score and second lowest in the non-open category. As a team, Newman’s three-man total of 264 edged out Oakville White Oaks by one shot for second-place behind Burlington Notre Dame.
Other Cardinal players include Giovanni Cuda, Mitchell Gilbert, Brett Parker, Michael Romano and Thomas Sulug.
Cirone, a member at Glendale, led the field with scores of 76 and 78 during two of four Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league tournaments this season at Chedoke. And during the summer his points total was 10th best on the Hamilton Halton Junior Golf Tour.
“Considering that I didn’t play my best golf, we found a way as a team to dig in and get a result to get us to OFSAA,” Cirone said. “We learned as a group that every single shot matters as we qualified by one stroke, so the lesson is to never give in and keep grinding. At OFSAA we’ll take it one shot at a time, focus, and enjoy the moment. Not many high school athletes get to go to OFSAA, so it’ll be a memory of a lifetime.”
Although this will mark the Stoney Creek school’s debut as a team at OFSAA, Newman graduate Payton Bennett qualified only a few years ago as an individual for the girls’ provincial high school championships. She then landed a golf scholarship to Indiana’s Ball State University.
Bennett’s brother, Ethan, never got to tee it up at OFSAA while at Newman but he also earned a U.S. golf scholarship – to Pennsylvania-based Gannon University.
Said Cirone: “My ultimate goal is to study and play collegiate golf in the U.S. I want to find a team that I can help and be a part of that enjoys the game and the challenges of the game as much as I do. I also wish to find a school that has an excellent business program that I can be a part of.”
Cirone’s father, Paul, is the community coach of the team. He says heartfelt gratitude should be extended to HWCDSB golf convener Giuseppe Pontillo for his hard work in making the fall tournament season happen.
Aidan McVey of the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves will be the other HWCDSB representative at OFSAA.