As Tony Ramseyer made his way to the Ahwatukee Country Club from Mountain Pointe High School two years ago, the Mountain Pointe boys golf coach often drove pass Johnny Campion.
Campion had his clubs over his shoulders and determination in his step as he made his way toward Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Club in the days after being cut from the Pride’s golf team as a freshman.
Ramseyer thought it was a good response, but figured it would eventually stop.
“It never did,” Ramseyer said. “He didn’t care what people thought. He just wanted to get better.”
When he kept seeing Campion, Ramseyer had an inkling the then-5-foot-3 Campion would grow into an important part of the Mountain Pointe program.
That day is now, but what Ramseyer didn’t know about Campion is the fact that he was going through a bit of an identity crisis as an athlete.
When he was freshman during the 2010-11 school year, Campion was not only cut from the golf team, but was told he was too small for football and then he was cut from the baseball team in the spring.
“It was very frustrating, but it motivated me,” Campion said. “When I got cut from football, I really started playing golf. I only played about three or four rounds before that. I wanted to get good at golf and there was only one way to do it.”
Campion took some lessons at Western Skies Golf Club in Gilbert and took Ramseyer’s parting words after cutting him — improve ball striking — to heart.
Since then Campion, who credited his uncle Ron for working with him, has grown 8 inches and dropped 15 strokes to develop into the Pride’s No. 3 golfer behind Austin Fletcher and Ben Harden, who are averaging 37.4 and 37.3, respectively.
“He never gave up and put in the hard work,” Ramseyer said. “A lot of kids today, after getting cut from three sports, would have basically quit and their parents would have let them. It is good to see him rise to the challenge. As a teacher that is what you strive for.
“It is so difficult to get that kind of effort out of kids, but Johnny rose up instead of quitting.”
Campion is one of the longer players off the tee on the team and is averaging 40.5 per round.
His development in three years has the Pride playing at a high level to start the season. After winning the Ahwatukee Cup to start the year and knocking off defending state champion Brophy in a regular season match, the team already has three of the five qualifying scores needed to qualify for the state tournament.
The team took a step back at the Brophy Invitational over Labor Day weekend after finishing 10th, but the possibilities are still there with a solid top three.
What the Pride needs in order to be more consistent is for the fourth and fifth golfers to become more dependable as Ramseyer has had to shuffle Josh Mendoza, who is the best bet to be the No. 4, Alex Stoken, Kyle Dominy, Elisha Cable and Billy Pope in the lineup.
“We were playing well but three of the first five events were on our own course (Ahwatukee Country Club),” Ramseyer said. “When we got away from here and played some of the tougher courses like Grayhawk and Red Mountain Ranch we weren’t playing at the level we needed.”
Ramseyer thinks the team will be OK as the season plays out.
“We are going to make some noise,” he said. “How much? We don’t know. We have to get settled on a dependable lineup first.”
At least Ramseyer isn’t waiting for someone to step into the No. 3 slot, which might have been the case if Campion would have given up as freshman instead of making that daily trek to the Lakes.
“I’ve been hitting the ball well but not scoring as good as I can,” Campion said. “The mental part is what I need to work on the most right now. I get a double bogey, get frustrated, and then get another one and then my round is over.
“Once I get past that I know I can be even better.”
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