The Journal is shining the spotlight on high school senior athletes whose seasons were cut short because of the COVID-19 outbreak. For the full videos of their interviews, go to JournalNow.com.
Phillip Clifton joined the boys golf team at Forsyth Country Day when he was in the seventh grade — the earliest he could enter varsity at the school.
His sixth season with the Furies was cut short because of the coronavirus outbreak. Clifton, who will begin a Division III career at Williams College in Massachusetts, looked to claim a conference title and an NCISAA championship in his final season.
Clifton shared his thoughts in a Zoom conference. Here are the highlights:
Q: What are you missing most about school and golf?
Answer: Definitely the comradery with the team because we had a really good looking team this year — probably the best I've had in my six years on the golf team. … The team has just bonded really well, and having a really good time out there. So I'm kind of missing that, just the team atmosphere.
Q: How are you keeping busy and remaining fit?
Answer: Since golf courses are still open, I've been getting out there every day. I'm trying to play as much as I can, just to kind of take my mind of this. And then I'm doing some workouts at home, but kind of limited stuff. It's just kind of been tough.
Q: If you could have one thing back that COVID-19 has taken from you, what would it be?
Answer: That's a tough one. I'd go with the golf season, even though missing out on school and seeing my friends every day is tough. I think golf, for me, is where I've had my best high school moments — playing golf with my teammates, having that bond.
Q: What were a few of your goals throughout senior year, and were those altered?
Answer: Definitely the golf goals were (altered). But also, for school, I always want to try and make straight As and get the best grades I can. That was actually a little easier with the coronavirus because the teachers aren't trying to bring our grades down or anything like that. And then, for golf, just trying to win a state championship and the conference championship. That's out the window, and that's kind of tough missing the last opportunity at that. Obviously, the golf goals were destroyed. That's what hurts the most.
Q: What’s been your source of motivation during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Answer: Probably, I'm hoping we can go (back to school) in the fall, and get my college career off to a normal start. So that's kind of been motivation. My goal is to try and crack the lineup as fast as I can. They've got a good team up there, but I'd like to try and start some matches in the fall. Also, Williams is such a great school — just keep up the academics.
Q: Who’s the person you couldn’t get through this without?
Answer: Definitely my parents (Chris and Michelle) because I think they kind of understand what I'm going through and they're trying to make it as normal as possible. I've had friends over, and we sit six feet apart. We use a projector to play video games or watch TV, so we can still see each other but it's still social distancing. They're good with allowing that stuff. Also just letting me go play golf and get outside, when I can. They're pretty much encouraging me to be out there anytime I want to, as much as I want to. But then also, if I just need a day to watch TV or relax, they're fine with that, too. They're not pushing me to do anything.
Q: What have you seen, heard or done during this difficult time that’s made you smile?
Answer: Golf helps, but a bunch of people on social media have been really positive about it. Actually, which is kind of surprising because, usually, that's more of a negative place to be. But like John Krasinski, the guy from The Office, is doing that show (Some Good News) on YouTube that's kind of nice. Honestly, just watching new stuff on Netflix and Hulu — just trying to find something to entertain myself — is usually a good way to cheer myself up.