Sean Donovan knows as well as anyone about seeing both sides. That comes naturally for a baseball pitcher who throws both righthanded and lefthanded. So the Kellenberg High School senior from Glen Cove thought the choice through thoroughly.
He knew he could either pursue baseball, with a special glove that allows him to switch hands depending on whether a righty or lefty batter is facing him. Or he could concentrate on a job that had the potential to change his life.
The decision was made easier a year ago this week, when he was playing for his travel team, the Long Island Storm, and broke his left hand sliding into second base. "I still don't know how it happened," he said. However that occurred, it broke the tie in his decision-making. He chose to put more time into his job as a caddie at North Shore Country Club in Glen Head. That, in turn, helped him earn a prestigious national award: the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship, which will give him a full ride for four years at Miami of Ohio.
"It's just amazing, to go through this and know I'm going to have a chance of a lifetime," he said, mindful that the Evans scholarship really is a lifelong honor that has been known to open doors for people who have won it.
He knows this because a fellow caddie at North Shore won it two years ago, becoming the first Evans scholar from Long Island. That fellow was Sean's brother Connor.
"I said, 'I don't know if I can get this.' Connor told me, 'Don't worry.' He was right in the end," Sean said.
Like Connor, who has completed two years at Northwestern, he will live in a dorm with other Evans scholars. All of them have been judged worthy by the Western Golf Association based on their grades, work history, citizenship and performance in an interview. The scholarship was founded in 1930 by Evans, the first player ever to win the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open in the same year (he also won the 1920 Amateur at Engineers Country Club in Roslyn Harbor).
Even before this, Sean felt like a winner. "I got to work with all my brothers. Most people don't get to do that," he said, referring to Matt, a second-year medical school student in Miami, Florida; Kevin, a graduate of Xavier, and Connor. All four of them have carried bags at North Shore. The elder two won partial Long Island Caddie Scholarships.
But everybody is different, and Sean, a baseball enthusiast since he was three, had his own unique path. It began when he showed up for work as soon as he was 14. "I started in the bag room. You've got to earn your loop," he said.
Mike Butler, the North Shore caddie master, makes no secret of the fact he is a task master. No slackers are invited. In fact, he was the one who reminded Sean that he had to put a lot into his caddying if he wanted a shot at the Evans. "He really made a commitment," Butler said. "He had to make a choice that most kids don't have to make."
Maybe the youngest Donovan will play recreational baseball at college. He knows he doesn't have to worry about a college loan or big bills. Nor do his parents, Noreen and Kevin. Their youngest son said, "Let's just say, they're not unhappy about it."
The first Lindenhurst Football Alumni Association outing will be July 21 at Wind Watch Golf & Country Club, Hauppauge. The honoree will be coach Richard Biancaniello. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.