By Randy Kindred
Schuyler Farris, known as “Sky” to friends and family, played in his first Special Olympics Illinois State Golf tournament on Saturday, September 10. He took home the silver medal in the MO1 (men’s division 1) 6-hole competition.
Reason to celebrate?
Yet, Farris was a bit of a celebrity before he even teed off at Forsyth’s Hickory Point Golf Course. That happens when you score a hole-in-one during regional qualifying. Farris did so on Aug. 15 at Gibson Woods Golf Course in Monmouth, acing the 18th hole from 135 yards out.
“That was fun,” said Farris, a 28-year-old with the Warren County Falcons. “It was my first time.”
Farris used a hybrid club on his memorable shot, which was witnessed by his coach and Special Olympics Athletic Director, Tom Glenn, and his grandmother, Deb Farris.
“He hit it up in the air, it dropped about 35 feet from the green and just started rolling and I said, ‘Grandma, that’s a really good shot for him,’” Glenn said. “We kept watching and it just turned and it turned again and went plunk.
“He said, ‘What happened?’ I said, ‘It went in,’ and all he did was go, ‘Yay!’”
And Grandma? What was her reaction?
“You could hear her on hole No. 1,” Glenn said, laughing.
A post on social media led to Farris being celebrated in his hometown of Roseville and in Monmouth, where on September 7 he was an honored guest during the annual Prime Beef Festival parade.
“They put him in the back of a truck with his golf clubs,” Glenn said. “Everybody yelled, ‘Hey Sky!’ and ‘Great, Sky!’ That was a lot of fun.”
Glenn has mentored Farris for eight years in a variety of sports and in golf for six. Early on, seeing Farris make a hole-in-one seemed improbable.
Glenn said his pupil was “just a duffer” in the beginning, but that, ‘We’ve moved him along.”
“He’s come a long way by just listening and getting better clubs has helped. His uncle was nice enough to get him a new set of clubs,” Glenn said. “He has learned the game doesn’t have to be hard. It can be soft and the better pendulum swing he gets, the more distance he gets.
“On No. 17 that day (of the hole-in-one), he hit his first 200-yard drive.”
Golf has risen to Farris’ second-favorite sport behind basketball. He also has participated in Special Olympics Illinois flag football, snowshoeing, track and field, bocce, softball and bowling.
Farris works at McDonald’s in Monmouth, but on the golf course, it is not about work … just truly playing the game.
“What do we say?” Glenn asked Farris. “We say, ‘We’re going to go out and have fun and the rest will take care of itself.’”
Skills abound for Allison Peterson
Skills competition at the State Golf tournament includes seven disciplines. Allison Peterson navigated them all to win the gold medal in her division.
“How exciting is that?” she was asked.
Peterson broke into a wide smile, giggled and nodded her head. The answer was clear: it was very exciting.
Peterson, 30, represents Little City in Palatine and was competing in State Golf for the second time.
“She really likes it,” said her father, Bill Peterson. “We did Unified golf a couple of years ago in our area. That was a blast.”
Allison Peterson has competed at state in softball throw, track and field, basketball, floor hockey and, yes, golf. The daughter of Bill and Marla Peterson began Special Olympics Illinois competition at age eight. Since 2014, she has been tutored in golf by Mary Dwyer at Little City.
“She is very open-minded to correct things that I suggest to her,” Dwyer said. “I never say, ‘You have to do this.’ But I suggest and when she sees that it works, she maintains it. She’s a good student!”
Tamara Parks states case again
Tamara Parks of Kirkwood has competed in Special Olympics Illinois for 13 years, and to say she has kept busy is an understatement.
A member of the Warren County Falcons, Parks has reached the state level in swimming, golf, volleyball, basketball, track and field and bowling. Her second trip to state golf resulted in a fourth place in the 6-hole competition.
Parks, 27, advanced to the USA Games in swimming in 2014, coming home from New Jersey with two gold medals, a silver and a bronze. Her support group includes her mother, Teri Parks, and grandmother, Leah Unger of Galesburg.
“We’re extremely proud of everything she has accomplished,” Teri Parks said. “Throughout her life, everybody told her she wasn’t going to amount to anything. But she’s proven that she has the capability if people give her a chance. We love that.
“She has become a competitor since she went to nationals. No. 1 was just making friendships. But she gets to compete against different people and they always wind up being friends. They know each other on the course or court or wherever, but they still respect each other and I think it’s great.”