While much of Pennsylvania sitting under a blanket of snow on Thursday, Central York junior Joe Parrini had warmer thoughts on his mind.
To start, he was comfortably away from all of the white stuff in Naples, Florida, where he spends the winter and spring months honing his golf skills, while taking online classes through Central York.
More importantly, however, he was thinking about his golf future, which will also take place in a sunny climate.
Thursday afternoon, Parrini announced his verbal commitment to play golf for the University of Arizona, beginning in the fall of 2018.
"I just took the initiative to call the coach and we developed a great relationship and I made my visit out there about two weeks ago and I just fell in love with the place," Parrini said.
Parrini went on to say that everything about the campus is what he envisioned for himself when he was mapping out his college goals. He enjoyed the energy and atmosphere on the campus, while also speaking highly of the golf program and the relationship he built with the coaching staff.
Recruiting process: For a golfer such as Parrini to get noticed, he had to rely on himself to garner interest from NCAA Division I coaches. Unlike with football or basketball, where top-notch players are always competing in front of coaches when they take the field or court, high school golfers have to "self-market" themselves, as Parrini put it. It was up to him to show coaches that he was interested in their programs.
"If you're looking at colleges all across the country, you're going to have to take the initiative to send emails and give the coaches calls," Parrini said. "Just really get yourself on their radar so they can see you progress, and I did that for Arizona and everything ended up working out."
Parrini started thinking about his college future as soon as he entered high school. As a freshman, he would take unofficial visits to college campuses just to get a feel of which ones he would like. It also gave him a better sense of where he wanted to go and what aspects of a campus intrigued him, so when it came down to making a decision, he'd know what he wanted.
He never had a timeline for committing to a school, but knew that the time was right after visiting Arizona a couple weeks ago. He didn't want to wait any longer.
"The process allowed me to make a good decision," Parrini said. "It felt right making the decision now because of the time and energy I put into this process and I just figured out what I liked and what I didn't like, and when this opportunity popped up at Arizona, I had to take it."
Leading the Panthers: Parrini is one of the more accomplished male golfers to come out of York County in recent memory.
Just in his first three years, Parrini has twice won a District 3 individual championship, first claiming the 2-A title as a freshman at York Catholic and then winning this year's 3-A title with the Panthers. This past year, Parrini not only won the District 3 3-A individual crown, but also captured the York-Adams League individual championship and was low-scorer in Central's league and District 3 championship winning team performances, as well. He was a major figure in helping the Panthers qualify for the team state tournament, where they finished third in Class 3-A.
Parrini said he'll return to Pennsylvania in May once the school year ends and continue his normal life. He'll play on junior tours during the summer and then attend Central York in the fall for his senior year and play for the golf team. Then, next winter, he'll return to Naples to continue to train and improve his golf game. He also works out with a golf coach in Jacksonville every couple weeks, while taking his online classes.
When Parrini does end up going to Arizona after he graduates next spring, he'll be the second Central golfer in a three-year span to play for a Division I golf program. Gus Minkin graduated from the high school last spring and is now a member of the Minnesota men's golf team.
Both the men's and the women's golf programs at Arizona have produced some notable names on the pro circuit. In the men's game, players such as Ricky Barnes, Rory Sabbatini and former Lancaster County resident Jim Furyk played for the Wildcats, while the women's program has produced Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sörenstam and Natalie Gulbis.
Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com.