Farewells: Saying Goodbye To Erie Senior Golfers

Hayden Jackson, Staff Writer

Saying goodbye is one of the hardest experiences we face. Additionally, it is hard to let go of those whom you’ve spent countless hours with and became very fond of. This is especially true within the Erie Tiger Golf team. Golf is a sport that allows athletes to connect with others on a level that most other sports fail to reach. The tight-knit team is having many seniors leaving, but many are optimistic, knowing that a farewell is temporary and that they will see each other again. 

The legacy that the 2022 Erie Golf program seniors left on the program is a legacy this program is lucky to have. Seniors Dylan Donahue, Hudson Williard, and Sydney O’Connor will be moving on to college next year. The three student-athletes have left a mark on the Erie High golf program through their golf game, motivational attitudes, and personalities. Their commitment to the development of their game and their teammates established an invaluable environment for future athletes. The next few sections will focus on each senior and highlight their accomplishments both on and off the green. 

According to some on the team, Hudson Willard is the best leader since he has joined the program. Willard shows great leadership. When the team is messing around or if nobody else is stepping up, Willard is the first to lead the pack . Willard is one of the nicest young men you will ever meet around the Erie community.


 Another senior is Dylan Donahue. As the golf team grew, Donahue also grew. No matter what, Donahue is up to play a round or just to play 9 holes with somebody on the course. Donahue’s heart is always in the right place and he cares about everybody around him. 


Teammate Keagan McKinsey addressed that the two young men are exemplary of the values of the golf program. It wasn’t just the boys team who these brilliant young men inspired. Even the young ladies on their state championship team have been influenced by Donahue and Willard.


However, much like the golf program, Willard and Donahue work hard and play hard. Willard and Donahue were first to crack a joke, and encouraged younger members to join in. Players like Carter Navulur, Logan Hale, Hadley Ashton, Hollyn Drennen, and newcomers Sean Cary, Owen Dubois, and Noah Haas all have stories about these young adults.


The duration of this team environment goes beyond the season. In mid-January of last year, Donahue lost in the Erie Golf Fantasy Football league. The team came up with the punishment of doing the spiciest and gut-wrenching Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin challenge.


What is the Blazin’ Challenge? One has to chow down on six of the spiciest wings Buffalo Wild Wings has to offer in under one minute.  When the team got to the restaurant they asked if Donahue could do the challenge. However, disaster struck when the waitress broke the news that Donahue was not of age to complete the challenge. “No, you have to be 18,” the waitress said. As the waitress was walking away, Donahue, in his confident voice, said “What if I just get the sauce on the side to put on the wings?” The table was shocked after they had lost hope.


However, the team regained hope when their improvised wing challenge became reality. As the wings came out the table could smell the twisting spice of the wings. Everyone got their phones out and McKinsey said, “3…2….1….Go!!”, and Donahue was off. Donahue had got through one wing alright then the third then the fourth wing was like Donahue had seen a ghost. Donahue was pale in the face but his eyes and lips were as red as a rose. 


In the end, Donahue was ok and was cracking jokes with everyone while watching the recording of him eating the wings. No matter how stupid the thing he was doing was, the team rallied around him like no other. The team became closer and the goals became tighter due to Donahue being the guy people rallied. 


On and off the course, he is intelligent and works so hard to get where he wants to be week by week. Willard led a lot of the team to push with academics. Willard had the grades and representation around the team to push for academics.


“Willard was an example to many players on the team, paving a path for a prime example of what a student athlete is.” Part of this young man’s legacy will be how he pushed very hard in academics. Willard transferred his work ethic over to everyone else on the team. More impressively, Willard is a self-taught golfer, which isn’t an easy task.


Much like Donahue, Willard never backed down from any task. Willard took on anybody on the team no matter what the weather was. When Willard took on a challenge from somebody he would bring the swag with him. 


Willard had by far the best swag and clothes on the team. Whether it was vibrant colors or dark colors, he would pull it off. The respect he gained from his team and the passion the team had for him was admirable. 


Erie team had a playing-type tournament practice at Walnut Creek Golf Course. Willard fired a 75, having the best score throughout the whole team. When he came into the clubhouse, everyone had nothing but positive things to say to him. He emerged as the guy to beat on the Erie roster during that part of the season. 

”Sydney is one of the nicest people and most dedicated to the game of golf.” Logan Hale explained. On the course, O’Connor sees the positive through the rough times. This translated to others who were around her but followed and implemented the habits she had built for herself.


During the 2022 State Championship,  O’Connor didn’t have the best two days. However, when it was all over, her attitude switched. Winning the state championship doesn’t happen every year, but her ability to understand the great situation the team was in shows a lot of leadership. 


Junior golfer Hollyn Drennen is around O’Connor a lot on and off the course, Drennen sees no differences from her on the course or off it. Drennen says that, “she brings out the best version of yourself and gives you confidence. We can always laugh and have a good time.” 


She doesn’t just have an impact on her teammates, head coach Brandon Bird describes her as someone who can fight through any struggles that are presented. One of Bird’s favorite stories of O’Connor was at her first tournament her sophomore year at their home course, Colorado National Golf Club.


O’Connor hadnt had the best front nine so Bird went over to try and give her the classic head coach talk. “She kind of just re-gathered her focus and just seemed like from that moment on for the rest of the season, she was able to kind of keep her struggles isolated.” Moments like these which define who the player is and what they will become. 


With such young experience as a sophomore, O’Connor surprised the team with her elevated levels of grace and ability to stay calm. Junior golfer Carter Navulur shared his thoughts. “It takes a special type of golfer to stay calm consistently. Having a leader at a young age is an asset for the youngsters that are scheduled to come into the program.”


Navulur shares, “They really lift a good foot print for this program, and have very positive influences.” 


Mckinsey, best friend of both seniors, Donahue and Willard, goes into more depth about them. “They have had an impact on me, not just seeing their work ethic but also when they  are hitting on the range, it inspires me to go hit too.” That is a true testimony on who these young men are and how they influenced juniors but also set an example for the underclassmen. 


O’Connor who hasn’t started her final season on the Erie team. “I’m going to miss all my friends I’ve made from this team.” For her, the ending of an era and starting a new chapter makes everything bittersweet.


Willard told us, ”I’m going to miss my amazing coach and teammates the most.” The head coach Brandon Bird doesn’t get the credit he deserves for doing so much for the Erie program. Willard was the guy known for helping Bird  if he needed someone to lend him a hand for help. 


Donahue built so many friendships and connections throughout his four years with the Erie program, Donahue showed so much improvement on and off the course. Donahue is going to miss the people he has built formidable relationships with. Donahue won’t be the only one missing people because we as a program will miss him when he goes to flight school in Arizona.


Keagan McKinsey described the seniors as. “Loyalty, passion, and commitment are the three words on how I would describe these three seniors.” They took representing and pushing the program and the people into a path of success to a new level. We wish the best for the future to these three remarkable young adults. From the Erie Golf program, thank you, Hudson, for showing leadership; thank you, Dylan, for being someone the program can rely on; thank you, O’Connor, for showing compassion for everybody throughout the program. We wish you the best of luck going into your last semester as an Erie Tiger.