Young Hyde Park golfers honored with full college scholarships

Mike Kelly (right), Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO, poses with Tim Arrington (left), Kenwood Academy High School Senior and recipient of the Evans Scholarship at Marquette University, and Abdel Raoul (center), Mt. Carmel High School Senior and recipient of a full academic and athletic scholarship at Prairie View A&M University, as they hold letters from golfer Tiger Woods congratulating them on their athletic and academic achievements. (Marc Monaghan photo)

Contributing writer

Abdel Raoul, a senior at Mount Carmel High School, and Tim Arrington, a senior at Kenwood Academy, were honored Monday night at the Jackson Park fieldhouse for receiving full four-year college scholarships due to their golfing and academic achievements. A crowd of about 100 people celebrated them.

Arrington is the first student to earn an Evans Scholarship working at Jackson Park since 1993. He plans to attend Marquette University in Milwaukee.

“There is no greater feeling than seeing my mother overjoyed with my success,” he said in a statement.  “I’m proud this scholarship eliminates the stress of tuition she wouldn’t be able to afford.”

Raoul is the recipient of an academic and golf scholarship to play as a NCAA Division 1 golfer at Prairie View A&M University, a public, historically Black institution in Prairie View, Texas. He has represented Chicago at a tournament at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course on the California Central Coast.

“The golfing opportunities, hard work, and golf courses I have played, along with the sacrifices from my parents, helped get me to where I am today,” he said.

Tiger Woods sent personalized mementos that were presented to both Arrington and Raoul on Monday.

Besides the four-year scholarship, Raoul got a $1,000 check from Andre Stephens, Sr., great-grandson of Chicago’s African-American golf pioneers Walter and Nettie George Speedy.

“Abdel represents what golf is all about, and is bringing in a new generation of golfers to represent the African American community in the game,” Stephens said. “You are free to use these resources both for your academic pursuits and your game of golf.”

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said Raoul and Arrington make it known “that our young people are active and involved in the parks — and, yes, we do play golf.”

“You make the South Side proud,” Hairston continued. “You make the city proud. You make this ward proud. I have no doubt that your futures are shiny and bright and the world is your oyster. Whatever it is that you want to achieve, you will achieve. I am confident in that.”

Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Mike Kelly congratulated the students on behalf of his organization. “I dreamed about being both of you,” he said. “I dreamed about being a Division I golfer, but it didn’t work out, and I applied for the Evans Scholarship many years ago, but didn’t get it.  What you guys are doing, and what you’re going to do for all of us, makes us all proud.”

Raoul said he has known Arrington since fourth grade. “Seeing him here, and seeing everybody that came out to support us, I’m truly honored and blessed and I thank everybody.”

“Tiger has been my role model on the golf course, and with the greatness he brings, it’s an honor,” he continued. “I’m truly grateful. Nobody told me this would happen, and with everybody showing up, I was absolutely surprised.”

Arrington said, “Ever since I became a caddie, this is what it has been for. I am going to use the Evans Scholarship to change the world, since it changed my life, I have to change other people’s lives.”

Arrington said the occasion means the world to him: “My mother and I have been struggling a little bit. To have this opportunity with all these people supporting me — and to have Tiger Woods noticing the progress we’ve made —That’s amazing. That’s awesome.”