By zach alvira
GSN Sports Editor
For as long as he can remember, golf has been a part of Perry High senior Caden Christopherson’s life.
He began learning the game after his father, Eric, retired from professional baseball and began working at a golf course in Chandler.
“He got pretty good, and when he was able to, he put a club in my hands and started teaching me,” Caden said. “He taught me all throughout my junior career and I really began to love the game.”
Christopherson tied for third in the Division I high school state championship in Tucson on Monday and Tuesday, with a two-day 140 at Omni Tucson National. That was four strokes off the lead and best among East Valley golfers. Perry placed fourth in team play.
Caden was just 4 when he began playing, and 13 years later has become the top-ranked prep golfer in the state.
This past summer he won the Arizona Junior State Championship, which featured some of the best golfers he has played.
Caden was invited to the Junior Invitational, which brought 10 golfers from Arizona to compete against junior golf clubs in Scotland.
“We basically played a round every day against different golf clubs all around Scotland,” Christopherson said. “It was awesome. It was an experience. I’ll never forget it.”
His summer success carried over to Perry’s golf season. Christopherson was the individual champion at the Dobson Classic and Chandler City Shootout.
Christopherson gained attention from Division I college programs. He earned his first scholarship offer from Pacific as a junior. He had been talking to other schools and attended camps at Texas and Texas A&M. Large schools didn’t excite Christopherson.
“Caden is such a laid back, easy-going kid,” said LaLena Christopherson, Caden’s mother. “He just wants to be able to play golf and relax. He didn’t find the idea of a large campus and school intriguing. He’s the type who would rather get to know his professors in smaller classes.”
It wasn’t until this past spring that a school he had heard positives about finally started to express interest in him.
Members of the coaching staff from Texas Christian University contacted Caden’s golf coach, Matt Trimble, and wanted to watch him play. After seeing his talent, they extended an offer to come visit the campus on an unofficial visit. It’s there that Caden and his parents fell in love with everything TCU had to offer.
“The facility is amazing and I just loved how all of the coaches and players really come together,” Caden said. “TCU wanted me to respond quickly because they knew I would probably get other offers over the summer and I felt like I shouldn’t wait on it.
“The opportunity was there and I decided to pull the trigger.”
Caden committed to TCU on April 27.
Along with the facilities, coaching staff and atmosphere, TCU also offered Caden an opportunity to continue doing something he does almost daily at his home in Chandler: fish.
“One of the courses by TCU has a bunch of fishing holes on it so he can bring his pole and catch bass,” LaLena said. “We live by a bunch of lakes and if he isn’t playing ping pong with his friends or golf or baseball, he is catching fish. TCU was just a really good fit.”
Caden’s decision to commit to TCU came with a bit of sacrifice as the second semester quickly approaches.
He remains up in the air as to whether or not he will play baseball for the Pumas this spring.
“I’ve spent so much time thinking about it and all of the pros and cons,” Caden said. “I’m still undecided. For me, I think it will be a thing where I either want to play or I don’t when baseball season comes up.”
Caden said his decision will take place over winter break. If he plays, there’s no question the Pumas would be happy to have him on the mound. Last season, Caden struck out 21 batters in 30 innings and posted a 4.43 ERA.
Caden is confident that he can have the same impact, if not better, for the Pumas this season. If he decides not to take the mound again, he hopes his legacy of hard work will spread to the golf and baseball programs at Perry.
“It’s high school and you want to have fun but I think you have to work hard, too,” Caden said. “I’ve always put my head down and got the work done. I think that’s the legacy I would like to leave.”
Gilbert golfers excel at state
Gilbert-area high school golf teams and players made strong showings at state.
In boys play, joining Perry in the top 10 was Gilbert, eighth.
In the girls tournament, Highland took fifth and Perry sixth. Individually, Malia Uyeshiro of Perry tied for eighth and Lorel Hayward of Highland tied for 10th.
EV high school golfers honored
The Junior Golf Association of Arizona announced the 2018 Sportsmanship and Player of the Year Awards on Oct. 21.
The awards are spread throughout five prep golf divisions, with six East Valley golfers receiving recognition for the 2018 season.
Meghan Singh of Mesa was awarded the Player of the Year award for girls 15-18, while Kohl Kuebler fro Gilbert was awarded the championship for Sportsmanship of the Year.
Gavin Krist and Breann Brennan, both from Chandler, received the Most Improved Awards, while Lauren Garcia from Gilbert received a Hole-in-One Award for her shot at the Talking Rock Golf Club on hole No. 7.