HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
As a student/athlete, Haley Yerxa certainly knows how to get things accomplished and do them extremely well. Whether it’s academics, athletics or volunteering her time, she knows how to make her mark.
The Hillcrest High School grad was on the Gold Crest Honour Roll all four years with a 4.0 out of 4.0 grade-point average, while winning three National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association golf titles, playing four sports and winning awards in field hockey and golf.
She has carried that momentum as a scholarship student to Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. Last month, she was named a Women’s Golf Coaches’ All-American Scholar with a 4.0 GPA in software engineering.
Entering her fourth year of academics as a redshirt junior, Yerxa has already been a member of her university’s President’s List, Dean’s List, the AD Honour Roll and the ASUN (Atlantic Sun Conference) Commissioner’s Honour Roll.
Yerxa also was an inaugural member of the EAGLE Leadership Institute, sat on the Eagles’ Council for sports, served as a co-op student software developer for BlackBerry and a junior software developer for Bell.
An academic tutor, she has been a community volunteer with the Gulf Coast Humane Society, the Salvation Army and Octagon. She also learned to play six musical instruments as well as the piano and has a taekwondo black belt.
Oh, and Yerxa’s also a fine, fine golfer, playing two seasons for the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles. In 2021, she didn’t have “a great spring,” but helped the Eagles take third place in the ASUN Conference.
The member of the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club was hoping to return to Ottawa this summer, rediscover her game and play a lot of tournament golf. But the COVID-19 pandemic ruined that plan, somewhat.
“It has been a tough year to find tournaments with COVID. There hasn’t been a lot of women’s events,” said Yerxa, who has only played the Quebec and Canadian women’s amateur championships and an invitational tournament in Calgary.
After returning home from university, she quarantined for two weeks before flying two days later to Calgary for the Glencoe invitational tournament in June. Although her game felt a little rusty, she was happy to play a tournament and was seventh.
At the Quebec women’s amateur championship, Yerxa tied for third at 76-72-72 for a seven-over-par score of 220. She also travelled to Spruce Grove, AB, for the Canadian women’s amateur, tying for 13th at 74-76-72-76 for 10-over 298.
“It was the first time I had made the cut,” Yerxa said about her third Canadian amateur experience. “It was a different tournament. It’s usually world class, filled with Americans and international players.
“But it was still a great field. I enjoyed it because it felt like a Canadian championship. It was cool this year just to compete against Canadian golfers.”
On the Edmonton Petroleum Golf and Country Club course, Yerxa was “pleased with the consistency” of her four rounds.
“I struggled, but I put up four solid rounds. It was good, but I didn’t break through with a round that I was looking for. I had flashes of really good golf and felt like I was getting back into my game,” she added.
Royal Ottawa’s Ashley Lafontaine, who qualified for the United States girls’ junior championship, tied for 25th at the Canadian women’s amateur at 76-76-79-73 (16-over 304). Hunt’s Isabella Ferguson shared 35th at 74-82-74-80-310.
Antonia Ho of the Hunt, who missed the Canadian women’s amateur cut, tied for 50th at the Canadian girls’ junior championship at Leduc, AB, with rounds of 79-82-77-84 for a 34-over 322.
Ferguson, also of the Hunt, stood tied for 53rd with rounds of 81-76-82-84 for a 35-over 323, while Royal Ottawa’s Madeleine Pyjura was tied for 64th at 81-81-82-85 for a 41-over 329.
In the younger juvenile-class rankings at the national junior championship, Ho was 31st and Ferguson shared 33rd.
During the Canadian men’s amateur in Windsor, Mississippi’s Ellis Kinnaird shared 43rd at 73-71-77-68 (five-over 289) and Ontario boys’ junior champion James Newton of Royal Ottawa tied for 58th, 73-70-73-77 (nine-over 293).
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.