Two NorthWood boys golfers recently received statewide recognition for their off-the-course accomplishments.
Class of 2021 senior Kyle Cripe received the prestigious Mitchell J. Winger Courage Award, while class of 2022 senior Brady Chupp was named to the very selective academic all-state team by the Indiana High School Golf Coaches Association (IHSGCA). Both players received their awards at the year-end banquet for the Association on Saturday.
“It feels good,” said Cripe of his Winger Award recognition. “I didn’t know there was going to be a bunch of people there from other schools, but I went up there and just thanked a lot of people.”
“It’s special,” said Chupp of his academic all-state selection. “There are some other academic all-states that are a little more lenient, but this golf one is for the best and the brightest. To be down there with those guys, it was just really cool to see.”
DELAYED CELEBRATION FOR CRIPE
The Winger Courage Award is given annually by the IHSGCA to one male and one female player. The award is presented to someone “who contributes to the success of their team despite of physical impairments and/or medical conditions,” per the Association’s website. The award is named after Mitchell Winger, a 1977 Whitko graduate who overcame physical disabilities to still be a letterwinner in golf his junior and senior seasons.
Cripe was set to receive the Winger award following the 2021 season, but the year-end banquet last season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Per NorthWood coach Phil Ummel, the original plan was to just mail Cripe the award, but Ummel wanted to make sure his player received the proper recognition in front of his peers. Therefore, even though he didn’t play for the Panthers this season, Cripe still received the Winger honor for the 2022 campaign.
Cripe has various health issues, although nothing has ever been specifically diagnosed. He is deaf in his left ear, has a speech impediment and a heart murmur, which has caused him to struggle with a lot of things in his life.
Still, despite these challenges, Cripe overcame them to be part of the starting varsity rotation for the NorthWood boys golf team in his final season as a player. He then spent this past season as a volunteer assistant coach to Ummel.
The 2021 NorthWood alum was the second Panther to win the award this year, as Bella Sechrist took home the honors for the girls golf season in the fall.
Cripe gave a speech at the banquet ceremony, and he talked about the various obstacles he’s had to overcome to play the game of golf.
“I just talked about my golf game and what I have to use to get the right club and test the wind,” Cripe said. “I use a cheat sheet that has clubs I can use with yardages that I go through so I know what to hit.”
Chupp couldn’t stop raving about his former teammate and the impact he’s had on the NorthWood program.
“His speech was just special,” Chupp said. “He’s just an inspiration to all of us on our team. I can’t speak highly enough of what he brings to the atmosphere. Just his outlook on life, even through everything he’s had to overcome, is just truly special. To have that wisdom in our program is an absolute honor.”
Ummel echoed a lot of the same sentiments expressed by Chupp regarding Cripe’s speech.
“He’s persevered and found systems that he can use to help him (play golf),” Ummel said. “He just talked to us about his love for the game and his thankfulness for the people around him that have supported him and allowed him to continue that pursuit. It was just touching to hear how much it all meant to him.”
CHUPP PART OF EXCLUSIVE CLUB
While most sports in the state of Indiana can have more than 100 players potentially make the academic all-state team, the IHSGCA limits their team to 15 players. That’s what makes what Chupp did even more impressive.
“It was really neat,” Ummel said. “… Golf’s pretty special because, typically, your normal golfer is a pretty bright kid to begin with. And then, the coaches’ association only recognizes 15 kids from around the state. So, to be in the top 15 of a select group of student-athletes is incredibly impressive. It speaks very well of Brady and his accomplishments.”
Chupp earned the all-state selection by scoring a perfect 36 on his ACT and a 1560 on the SAT. He was also part of the Panthers varsity rotation this year on a team that fell just three shots short of advancing to the regional. It’s the second-straight year a NorthWood student has received academic all-state honors, as Ben Vincent made the 2021 team.
Chupp will be continuing his education at Liberty University in Virginia, majoring in both mathematics and sports administration.