Newell headed to Mount Olive College
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 31, 2007 1:48 PM
PIKEVILLE -- Brooke Newell flipped over the basket of golf balls, rolled one toward her feet and looked out over the Lane Tree driving range.
She steadied her stance, swung through the ball and watched it sail toward the 250-yard marker. Newell's consistent and lengthy strikes caught the attention of onlookers, especially Mount Olive College head coach Chip Spiron.
Spiron walked over and introduced himself.
"I didn't know what to say," laughed Newell.
The two chatted for a few minutes and exchanged emails. Newell hadn't considered playing golf in college until that moment.
"I didn't know what I wanted to do," said Newell. "I always hear from other people that I have potential, potential, potential. I really don't see myself as other people see me.
"It makes it real when somebody approaches you about your game. I was thinking 'hey, maybe you're not so bad after all.'"
Spiron continued his pursuit of the Charles B. Aycock senior as the fall season progressed. After a campus visit and discussion with the successful Trojan coach, Newell signed a national letter-of-intent to play at MOC.
The 18-year-old daughter of Dale Newell of Pikeville, Brooke became the 13th Golden Falcon athlete to sign or commit with a college this academic year. She is the third county female golfer to play for the Trojans, and joins former Eastern Wayne standout Kristen Freeman.
Lindsey Snyder, who also played at Eastern Wayne, departed as the most-decorated golfer in MOC history in 2006.
"Coach Spiron made me feel welcome; made me feel like I was wanted, so that was a big part (of my decision)," said Newell. "It was either Mount Olive or nothing. I was that confident with him."
Mount Olive posted a sixth-place finish at the 2006 Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference tournament. The Trojans claimed the MOC Invitational and recorded top-six efforts in three other tournaments.
"I'm looking forward to working with Brooke," said Spiron. "We've been lucky to have other local players on our team (and) Brooke will receive a lot of support being a local player.
"Athletically, she's very strong and can hit the ball a long way. I plan to work with her most on her short game. She'll be a good player for us in the future."
Newell isn't your typical golfer. Out on the course, she keeps a tee tight between her teeth and a song in her heart. She'll often hum or sing out loud, just to calm her nerves.
The vocalizing might annoy her playing partners, but it helps her relax.
"I'm outside the box, loud and out there to have fun," said Newell. "To a certain extent, you have to have that killer instinct, but I don't want to just go out there with the feeling 'I have to win. If don't win, it's the end of the world.
"I'm out there because it's what I love to do and I want to have fun with it."
A four-year varsity starter, Newell helped C.B. Aycock claim three consecutive Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference championships. She placed fifth overall in the 2006 N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A/2-A/3-A eastern individual regionals as a senior.
While her game off the tee is strong, Newell realizes her short game must improve. She surmises it's the weak point of her game and the least favorite thing that she practices.
"My chipping and putting is what I've been working on this summer," said Newell. "I really have to buckle down on that. But, overall, I'm pretty confident in my game right now."
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