Starting them off young: Local athletes perfecting skills from early age

Published 12:23 am Sunday, October 22, 2017

When Chase Kaiser first began playing golf, he could only shoot a few holes at a time before getting tired.

Now at 15, Kaiser can do more than play a full round — he can play it well.

At a Mississippi Junior Golf Association tournament on Oct. 7-8 in Jackson, Kaiser shot an even par for the first time in his life, propelling him to second place finish among 19 players in his age group.

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“I haven’t really done well in tournaments in the past, so it was big,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser first began playing golf at age 8 or 9, his father Hayden Kaiser said, and while the sport came naturally, starting young has been crucial to his success.

“He has improved greatly, especially since this past summer,” Hayden Kaiser said. “He is just getting better and better.”

Along with competing on the Cathedral High School golf team, Kaiser also competes in the MJGA and Southeast Junior Golf Tour.

His high finish at the Randy Watkins Invitational began with shooting an 82 on the first day, followed by his even round of 72 on Sunday. He shot five birdies on the second day.

“I had a couple of bad holes on Saturday, and it added up,” Kaiser said. “I’ve always liked the pressure. I tend to do better then, so I had a really good day. That was the most birdies I’ve ever had.”

On his quest to becoming the greatest player he can, Kaiser notes he is glad he started young.

“I realize the importance because I picked it up really fast,” he said. “I fell in love with golf, and I start practicing really hard. To have the experience under my belt has given me confidence. It also gets my name out there, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Hayden Kaiser said the practice seems to be paying off.

“I believe the earlier you start, the better you will be in the long run. It’s also about work ethic,” he said. “I’m not forcing him to do anything. He has to be able to do it on his own, and he is.

“He will take a scholarship from anywhere really, but he wants a Division I scholarship really bad. I’m really proud of him.”

The wish to go to play college sports is the same for Trinity Episcopal’s Addison Jackson. Recently turning 12 and now in the seventh grade, Jackson has pitched for the varsity softball team for the past two years.

On her recent list of accomplishments, Jackson traveled to Conway, Ark., to compete in a national tryout and college prep factory hosted by Under Armour.

Jackson’s mother, Gayla, said after being evaluated on skills such as hitting technique and her pitching, Jackson ranked at or above a high school level for all categories.

After the evaluation, Jackson was selected to travel to two separate four-day training camps next year in Florida.

“She really wanted to know if she was falling behind, but we didn’t expect her to be chosen,” Gayla Jackson said. “She just loves it.”

And while college is still a ways away, Gayla Jackson said her daughter recognizes the importance of linking academics and athletics.

“If she continues to stay on that path, she is determined to play Division I ball,” Gayla Jackson said. “She knows a good education comes first. We will just see how far it goes.”