AKRON – Victoria Biddle admits that her emotions ran the gamut on Saturday at the Warsaw Golf Sectional.
In the end though the Tippecanoe Valley High School senior exhibited two traits well beyond her young years in dealing with a very tough situation.
Class and maturity.
That’s what those around Biddle should remember from her final experience as a high school golfer.
That the 17-year old was able to reveal her character on a big stage under very trying circumstances.
Any athlete can be a good winner.
Biddle proved in the past few days that it takes a truly strong and special student-athlete to handle the other end of the spectrum.
The Valley No. 1 golfer was assessed a controversial two-stroke penalty before she even hit her first shot in the sectional at the Stonehenge Golf Club. Biddle, along with Claire Reiff of Whitko and Abigail Fishel of Lakeland Christian Academy were all penalized two strokes by tournament director and Stonehenge pro Jeff Schumaker for not teeing off by their scheduled 11 a.m. tee time.
Biddle ended up shooting a round of 94 in the rain-delayed sectional Saturday. Without the two stroke penalty, she would have been involved in a playoff with two other players for the final regional qualifying spot. The top three golfers from the sectional field not on an advancing team move on to the regional this coming Saturday.
The TVHS Athletic Department appealed the ruling to the IHSAA on Monday, but were denied.
That means that Biddle is done with her clubs.
“We are just very proud of Victoria for how she handled herself on Saturday,” said Valley Athletic Director Duane Burkhart in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “She really showed her character and what a great young lady she is.”
“I also congratulate our coach Darren Parker for handling the situation in a professional manner.”
Valley coach Darren Parker also praised his senior.
“When this news came down, there was more than one person present that gave the official an earful of their displeasure, but Victoria took the news as good as could be expected,” explained Parker in an email. “She did not get mad, did not argue, and did not pass blame. After a few more tears, she walked out of the event with her head held high and received congratulations and condolences from many of the patrons still present.
“She deserves our praise this week too. Her resilience and character were fully on display Saturday, and she represented Tippecanoe Valley in outstanding fashion.”
Biddle, who did qualify as an individual for the regional a year ago, admitted how tough it was to see her high school career end in a controversial manner.
“I just felt defeated and hopeless at the end on Saturday that this was how my senior year ends,” said Biddle in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “But I knew that I needed to keep calm or the situation could have been a lot worse.”
“I couldn’t have kept my composure and kept my head up without the help of my coach. Coach Parker did so much for me Saturday and the days following. I really can’t thank him enough for defending me, and going to bat for me the whole day. I really just wanted to credit him for his support and his effort, he went above and beyond. He is certainly a quality coach and a quality person that has inspired me to follow that example and that helped me handle the situation like I did. The support of everyone there, my parents and my coach had a big impact on how I handled this situation. I’m also thankful for the support of our athletic director.”
Biddle said, as did Parker in his email to the IHSAA, that the players were at their first tee prior to their 11 a.m. tee time.
“I just tried to push it out of my minds and give it my all and my best effort,” explained Biddle of her thought process after being assessed the two-stoke penalty. “Actually, the rain delay helped calm me down.”
Biddle admitted that the decision was a tough pill to swallow.
“I’m an even-keeled person, but it was really tough to stay calm,” said Biddle.
“I knew though that I needed to act the right way. I did not want to lose respect.”
In the end, she gained an immeasurable amount of it.
And that’s worth much more in the long run than any regional round of golf could ever be.