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Byers finds golf, new dream

<p>PHOTO BY T.J. ADAMS</p><p>Braden Byers signs with UAFS while his parents and Coach Curlett of UAFS (left) and Coach Williams of GHS (right) offer their support.</p>

PHOTO BY T.J. ADAMS

Braden Byers signs with UAFS while his parents and Coach Curlett of UAFS (left) and Coach Williams of GHS (right) offer their support.

An 8th grade Pittbull running back had a dream. It was all he could think about. Running onto the field through the Bulldog on a Friday night in front of the throngs of Greenwood fans was one of the most important goals in his young life.

Braden Byers’ dreams came to a crashing halt one Tuesday night when he suffered a career ending head injury. He would no longer be able to play football.

Shortly after the injury, Braden went to visit his Uncle Billy. His uncle was out in the yard hitting golf balls and Braden asked, “Can I try that?” Uncle Billy must have seen something special. He called Braden’s dad and said, “You need to get this boy in golf.”

Braden is a competitor and he works hard. His father knew this so he became a member of Vache Grasse to allow his son the opportunity to learn and practice the game. Braden spent most of his free time on the course practicing his swing.

By his freshman year, Braden was playing in and placing well in PGA summer junior tournaments. He joined the GHS Varsity Golf Team and scored in the upper 70s and low 80s.

He continued to practice. The following year, Braden was placing in the top five in ASGA and PGA tournaments. He was named an All-State golfer in both his sophomore and junior years.

In his junior year, he was shooting in the low 70s and finished the ASGA Summer Boys Junior Tournament as the runner up. Braden was invited to play for Team Arkansas in regional play.

This last summer, Braden played in 16 tournaments with an average finish of 4th place and an average score of 74. Colleges were interested. Braden had won 18 tournaments since the day he borrowed a club from Uncle Billy to “Try it out.”

After visiting several universities, Braden settled on the University of Arkansas in Fort Smith. “It was on the top of my list,” Braden Byers said. “Coach Curlett is straight forward and strongly encourages education. It is a perfect fit for me and I look forward to helping the team.”

When asked if he misses football, Braden exclaimed, “Yes, I do! I would have had two state rings and working on a third one. I pull for my classmates and wish them the best! But God had a different plan for me and now I’m going after it and I want to thank Coach Williams and everyone who supported me. And without my parents, none of this would have happened.”

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