First, Cecily Overbey did everything she could to avoid going to the golf course.
Once her parents made her go anyway to watch older sister Madison play, Cecily did everything she could to dodge the action.
“I would be in the cart with a DVD player, Disney movie playing while they were hitting,” Cecily recalled with a smile, remembering times when the volume even got a little too loud on the quiet courses. “I hated golf. I wanted nothing to do with it. I used to beg my parents to send me to summer camp instead of following her around on the golf course.”
Now, Cecily Overbey is poised to follow in her sister’s footsteps with an NCAA Division I golf scholarship. And she does everything she can to stay at the golf course as long as possible.
Cecily Overbey committed to NC State in December and is looking forward to signing with the Wolfpack next year. The 17-year-old junior at High Point’s Wesleyan Christian Academy chose Page Marsh’s up-and-coming State squad over Wake Forest and Auburn, where Madison played.
“I really like the coaching staff, the campus is beautiful, the golf facilities are awesome and just getting better,” Overbey said of her decision to head to Raleigh. “I felt that it was a good fit for me.”
Overbey, who is currently listed seventh in the CGA’s junior girls rankings, plays out of Colonial Country Club in Thomasville, where Director of Golf Mike O’Briant compared her game to several other talented teenagers who called Colonial home over the years: Page and Amber Marsh, both of whom enjoyed great amateur careers, plus Marcy (Newton) Hart, who continues to enjoy a long LPGA Tour career.
“She compares very favorably,” O’Briant said. “Cecily has the potential to certainly play at that level. I don’t see any reason she wouldn’t be able to achieve any goals she’s got for herself out there.”
Several aspects of Overbey’s game give her a leg up on the competition. Tall, thin and with a big swing, Overbey bombs long, accurate drives that have been known to hit 250 yards. Once she gets close to the green, Overbey’s dedication to the sport kicks in and sets her apart.
She has worked tirelessly on her chipping and putting over the last year, and thanks to a shot here and there being shaved off, Overbey’s stroke average has dropped from the low 80s to around 75.
“We see a lot of youngsters that have a lot of natural ability and they lack the work ethic that’s required to be what they say they want to be,” O’Briant said. “In Cecily’s case, she has a real eagerness to learn and a willingness to work. She’s been an ideal student.”
Overbey heads to Colonial every day after school, even during the winter. She called O’Briant “my swing coach, my mental coach, my short-game coach: I really wouldn’t be here without him.”
Overbey also wouldn’t be where she is today without her teammates on Wesleyan’s boys golf team – but she’ll have to part ways with the Trojans this spring.
Entering her sixth-grade year, Overbey got serious about her game and started hitting at Carolina Golf Academy in Greensboro. She had a goal in mind for middle school: “I wanted to try out for the JV boys golf team and my dad was like, ‘You know, if you’re going to do this, you’re going to have to practice,’ ”Overbey recalled. “I did it and had fun and it sort of snowballed from there.”
Overbey competed on the junior varsity for three seasons, then made the jump to varsity. Last spring as a sophomore, she played No. 2 for Wesleyan behind Davis Womble – now a member of Wake Forest’s team – and earned all-conference recognition.
“There were times,” Wesleyan coach Alan Spainhour said, “She played as well as Davis. That’s pretty remarkable.”
But last year would be her last with the boys. Spainhour said Wesleyan officials were approached about forming a girls golf team to help the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association increase participation in the sport. When Wesleyan did form a team, Overbey was told by conference officials that she could only play for the girls squad.
This past fall, she did not, choosing instead to focus on tournament golf and college visits.
“I knew it was an injustice to Cecily,” Spainhour said. “I have a golf mind, but I’m not sure the people making the decisions had the golf IQ to understand how it would have a negative impact on Cecily. For Cecily to go play short yardages with girls who were just learning to play and had just bought clubs vs. playing longer yardages against top people to compete with, it just doesn’t work that way. You want to compete against somebody a little bit better so you have to work harder.
“She’s the best golfer in our school – male or female. The right solution would be to grandfather Cecily and any other good girls golfers in the state.”
Despite the fact she would beat most of the opposing boys in high school matches, Overbey said coaches from other teams often gave her words of support and encouragement last spring. For her, the situation has been frustrating on many fronts. Competing against boys on longer courses helped make her a better player.
That could be among the reasons that, in Spainhour’s eight years leading the Trojans, his starting lineup included three girls who would end up playing D-I golf: the Overbeys plus Amber Littman, who competed for East Carolina.
The other major downside for Overbey is that she’s been playing with friends on the Wesleyan team since sixth grade.
“They’re like my brothers,” she said. “I’ve always loved playing with the guys.”
Overbey put on quite a show in her final spring with the Trojans. In a three-month stretch, she recorded her first eagle, double-eagle and hole-in-one: “It became this joke – they just kept happening,” Overbey said with a laugh.
And while she would undoubtedly be the boys’ No. 1 player this spring, Spainhour said Wesleyan will miss far more than her low scores.
“It’s about her leadership qualities and her character and her work ethic,” Spainhour said. “That was how she taught the other players. Your actions always speak louder than your words.”