As a high-performing high school golfer, incoming SM East senior Andy Spencer has had to develop some pretty steely nerves over the course of the past couple of years.
Standing in front of a room packed with family, friends and a handful of television cameras, however, the prospect of having to make a public speech had him feeling a little off kilter.
“I was standing over a birdie putt to win the state championship last year, and I thought I was pretty nervous then,” he said. “But here now…”
But Spencer had nothing to worry about — he’d already won the most prestigious award given to a high school golfer in the Kansas City Area. At a ceremony in the SM East library Wednesday, Spencer received the Kenneth Smith Award, given each year to the area golfer who exemplifies excellence both on and off the course.
In addition to winning the individual 6A state title this year, Spencer finished among the top five in each of the ten full-field tournaments he played in as a junior. His 71.2 stroke average for the season was the best in SM East history.
Spencer has also demonstrated excellence in the classroom, maintaining a 3.8 grade point average and being a member of the National Honor Society.
SM East golf coach Ermanno Ritschl was out of the country and could not attend the ceremony, but sent comments to athletic director Kelli Kurle to read at the ceremony.
“He’s a great leader by both words and example,” Ritschl said of Spencer. “Great work ethic. Very good temperament for the game of golf.”
Spencer is the third SM East student to win the award since its inception in 2000. SM East’s Simon Thompson won the award for the 2000-2001 school year, and Chase Hanna, who recently won the Watson Challenge, took the honor for 2012-2013.