Litchfield’s Jason Leigh Taking His Golf Game to College. Story by John Torsiello
It’s always exciting for a young person to have the opportunity to play sports at the collegiate level.
Litchfield High School’s Jason Leigh is pumped about taking his golfing skills to Division II Cedarville College in Cedarville, Ohio. But he’s about more than hitting ball from tee to green. This is a young man who also wants to make the world a better place through his studies in college.
Leigh, who will be studying Molecular Biology at Cedarville, said, “I have two goals: To succeed at golf and become professional, and if that is not God’s will then I am planning on becoming a research scientist. I want to do cancer research and maybe one day find the cure for cancer. I had many medical trials in my life that have turned me towards the desire to cure human illnesses.”
Leigh, a brilliant student who has maintained close to a perfect 4.0 GPA during his high school career, chose to attend Cedarville for several reasons.
“I wanted a solid Christian college. One that was in an area that is warmer than here. I wanted my college to have a strong Molecular Biology and science program. I also wanted my school to have a solid golf team. Coach (Joe) Poelzer, of Cedarville, is really nice and I look forward to spending time with him.”
Poelzer did not specify his role on the team but told Leigh, “I will be a great asset to the team and their overall character.” Leigh added, “I am going to be myself on the team and I will be able to contribute who I am. I also plan to play my very best all the time, as I do now, so that I can really succeed in my college golf career.”
Cedarville University over the last few years has sought NCAA DII status and will be completely designated a DII program for national tournament competition access as of July after finishing up its final year, known as a provisional year, which ends in July.
During this past year, its provisional year, it had to function as a full NCAA member. By the time Leigh arrives in the fall the school will be over its provisional year process and it will be able to compete in the national DII golf tournament process. For another two months, until the school finishes its provisional year, their athletes can't sign an actual national letter of intent, which is an NCAA eligibility center document.
Leigh signed an official NCAA letter of intent to play at the school under the guidelines and process in the NCAA procedures, but technically it’s not actually the national version.
Cedarville and five other DII schools are now charter members of the brand new NCAA DII Great Mid-Western Athletic Conference, which started up this last fall.
Leigh spent his first two years of high school at the Torrington Christian Academy where he played varsity soccer his sophomore year. He transferred to Litchfield High School before his junior year because of a family issue. He joined the golf team and played varsity soccer, receiving a letter in both sports both years at Litchfield.
His nine-hole average for the Cowboys this season is a sparkling 38, which includes a 35 he shot recently at Canaan Country Club. He won the Connecticut PGA Jack Kelly Sportsmanship Award in 2008 and 2009, after being nominated by his peers for the award. He received Berkshire League All-Star honors for golf as a junior.
“I started playing golf when I was three years old. My dad told me that I asked him how to hold the club and he took me to my first lesson. Now that I am older I love the sport of golf because of its integrity. There are no referees and you have to be honest and judge yourself by the rules. Also, golf is played entirely outside in nature. There are so many amazing sights and courses that are available to play.”
Leigh doesn’t have a “home” course, per se, but plays at different courses for practice and plays in Connecticut Junior PGA events during the summer.
“These tournaments are held at many different courses across Connecticut and Massachusetts. However, I have played at Fairview Farm (Golf Course) for a long time.”
Leigh is quite active in golf during the off-season when not playing in high school.
“I have played in over 175 tournaments in my life all the way back to when I was seven years old. There is nothing I enjoy more than going out onto the golf course to play. I would play every day if I had the opportunity.”
When asked what he finds most enjoyable abut golf, Leigh said, “I really enjoy getting to know people. I am a very friendly person and I enjoy getting to know new people whenever I can. Golf is the only sport where you are with three other people for five hours talking to them and spending time with them. I also really enjoy the fresh air and the outdoors. Golf is a perfect sport to enjoy this.”
He added, “I have been playing golf for many years and I believe that every single club in my bag is my best. Golf is a game of confidence and mental attitude. If you believe you will miss hit a club then most likely it will come true. I like to think that I can execute a perfect shot with any club that I have in my bag. I try my best to do this and then the outcome is not important. What is important is the fact that I gave it my all and I will do so on the next shot for the entire round.”
He realizes there’s always room to improvement in the game.
“Everyone has room to improve whether it is their swing mechanics, mental game or just their overall attitude at the sport. I am always looking to improve in any way I can. I worked hard for many years to improve my swing and now it is beginning to pay off. I will always be a learner and I look forward to what I can learn about the sport.”
In the early years in the game he took lessons from Chet Dunlop in at the Burlington Golf Center and has been taking lessons from David Pianki at Tower Ridge Country Club for awhile.
Leigh is excited about getting a chance to take his game to college.
“I am really looking forward to playing golf at Cedarville. I have been striving my whole life to do my very best at golf. Getting into a DII college to play has always been in my plans and dreams. I am planning on giving it my all.”
He has lofty goals for his game.
“Maybe someday with God’s help I will be able to play on the professional Tour.”
Or, if not, perhaps find that cure for cancer.