Right on Course: Local youth caddies awarded Evans Scholarships

Butterfield-Country-Club

By Anna Hughes

In 1930, the Western Golf Association and Charles “Chick” Evans Jr. established the Evans Scholars Foundation to provide full tuition and housing scholarships to outstanding caddies.

To be awarded a Chick Evans Scholarship, recipients must meet the requirements of having a strong caddie record, excellent academics, demonstrated financial need, and outstanding character.

Scholarship recipients will attend one of the 24 colleges that partner with the program. (WGA officials ultimately choose each student’s school for them based on interest and enrollment numbers.)

Since its inception, over 12,000 young men and women have graduated as Evans Scholars. We spoke with six local students entering this revered group of students and professionals nationwide.

 

Samuel Hemmersmeier
Elmhurst, Montini Catholic High School

During his eighth-grade year at Visitation Catholic School, Sam Hemmersmeier and his buddies decided they wanted to try caddying. Their moms coordinated, as moms do, and it wasn’t long before they started at Butterfield Country Club. Hemmersmeier knew about the scholarship, but at the time, he considered it a “far-off dream.” In the meantime, he worked to balance his schoolwork, football, track, and new job, which he said taught him several important skills.

“You get to learn important social skills, like how to communicate and talk with adults other than your parents…You kind of learn to be responsible, and you know, how to make a mistake, or correct a mistake, and do not waste your money when you get paid,” Hemmersmeier said.

Through this job, he met and networked with successful industry professionals who inspired him to pursue his dreams. The scholarship, once a dream, became a reality, and he now plans to study engineering in college on a pre-med track. It allows him to fulfill his dream of attending medical school without the financial burden of undergraduate debt.

 

Joseph Rinchiuso
Elmhurst, York Community High School

Joey Rinchiuso started caddying in the summer of 2021, thanks to a flier his mom found at the grocery store. Although he didn’t know about the scholarship at first, he soon saw other caddies wearing green bibs signaling their Evans Scholar status, which piqued his interest.

What was initially a summer job turned into a free ride to his school of choice, the University of Chicago, where he was admitted Early Decision. This “life-changing” scholarship will allow him to study economics and computer science. While at Butterfield Country Club, Rinchiuso sat down with several other caddies and golfers, learning from their success.

“One of the most valuable things that you can do is just listen and learn and intake as much knowledge as you can,” Rinchiuso said.

Not only will he have the support of Butterfield members he’s come to know over the years, but he also will have the backing of thousands of other Evans Scholars who encourage each other to succeed. Rinchiuso said the process has helped him develop self-confidence and enhance his communication skills.

 

John Pope
Willowbrook, Hinsdale Central High School

John Pope started caddying at just 12 years old, thanks to his uncle with connections at Butterfield Country Club. For Pope, caddying has always been about something to work towards – success and improved skills – just like in the sports he played in middle school. This only intensified when he learned about the Evans Scholarship for the first time; this became his new goal to work towards.

“Being around all these successful people really just taught me how to grow into a man and work hard for whatever I’m working towards. I learned that a lot of these successful people are just like me, and with ambition and hard work, I can go and chase my dream and really get whatever I want in life,” Pope said.

Pope said this scholarship is very helpful for him and his family, and he remembers his parents crying tears of joy when he opened the official letter notifying him of his scholarship. He is proud of the work he’s put in, both academically and on the course, that has allowed him to receive this scholarship.

Pope plans to major in finance, which he chose after speaking with many successful businessmen and women he met through his job at Butterfield.

 

Tom Remi
Darien, Hinsdale South High School

Tom Remi began caddying in the summer of 2021 at Edgewood Valley Country Club, but that was not his first experience on a golf course. Remi is also a golfer and has played at Hinsdale South High School for four years.

He thinks each role helps the other, especially regarding awareness on the course. His expert caddy skills, phenomenal academics, and professionalism earned him a spot as an Evans Scholar.

The best part about caddying for Tom was the confidence boost he’s experienced since he started nearly three years ago. He said he feels more comfortable talking with people and introducing himself, especially to higher-ups in the golf world and other authority figures.

“[It’s] obviously an incredible opportunity to be going [to college] off a full-ride scholarship. And I mean, but you can’t forget the opportunity that I’m allowed to go to one of these top schools, you know, and study and room and network with like-minded people,” Remi said.

He plans to study computer science, which he knows will open a myriad of doors after he graduates college debt-free.

 

Gianina Montoro
North Riverside, Nazareth Academy

During her freshman year at Nazareth Academy, Gigi Montoro was signed up for golf camp (against her will, she joked). The summer after, Montoro’s mom suggested she sign up for caddying at Chicago Highlands Country Club to make some extra money and talk with potential mentors in the golf world. Both the golf team and caddying gig turned out to be a success – Montoro is now in her senior year and is still doing both.

Montoro credits caddying with breaking down her shell. She’s had the opportunity to talk with a variety of professionals who have given her advice and career insight. Going into high school, Montoro wanted to be a teacher, but time on the course changed her mind. While working, she talked with financial advisors and investment bankers who have inspired her to pursue a different path. Now, she’s planning to study finance and accounting – for free – thanks to her scholarship.

“The financial burden that’s been lifted off of me, it’s been like, I can’t even begin to repay the scholarship committee and Chicago Highlands and everyone for what they’ve done for me. I mean, I literally get to start my life without any sort of debt, which is crazy. Like, I feel like that just sets me so far ahead of where I would have been,” Montoro said.

 

Bella Ramirez
Chicago, Nazareth Academy

Bella Ramirez started caddying during her sophomore year, but her experience is unique compared to some of her peers. She’s part of the Western Golf Association Caddie Academy, which provides summer caddie opportunities to exemplary high school students.

“From caddying, I learned the importance of hard work and friendship. Not only was I working towards the goal of the Chick Evans Scholarship, but I also made some lifelong friends along the way. I developed the skills of money management, the game of golf, communication skills, and instilled self-discipline,” Ramirez said.
Even though she was part of the Caddie Academy, Ramirez knew that she needed great academics and extracurriculars to continue on this path and become an Evans Scholar.

She plays lacrosse, leads the Girls Affinity Group, and is involved with the diversity club. She knows that the support of her family, friends, and Nazareth community has contributed to her incredible success as a caddy, student, and role model for other student-athletes.

She said that Nazareth’s four pillars of scholarship, service, spirit, and unity have pushed her towards the success that has ultimately led to receiving this scholarship. She is grateful to have received the scholarship and hopes that this tuition and housing money will allow her to pursue a graduate or law degree after college.

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