Though the two Team NC golfers may seem like they don’t have much in common, their love for the game bonds them in ways many wouldn’t understand.
When both athletes step onto the green, they feel at ease and as though they can accomplish anything. And they are taking that feeling with them to Seattle for the 2018 USA Games July 1-6!
At 56 years old, Anthony Beauchaine of Durham County has made sports a big part of his life. However, he often struggled to compete in many of his favorite sports because of pain in his knees.
“The issues he had with his knees had been going on for years,” explained Beauchaine’s sister, Lisa Demarco. “His doctor had basically said, ‘this is the worst I have seen,’ and Anthony knew he would have to do something about it soon.”
Before he could do anything though, Beauchaine’s Special Olympics career was put on hold briefly due to his father’s health and his knee issues. After his father’s passing, Beauchaine decided it was time to get his knees fixed so he could live his healthiest life. In July 2015, he got a double knee replacement and woke up from surgery prepared to take this challenge head on.
Just a month after the surgery, his family was stunned to see him up and walking.
“They got him up and walking the day after surgery and it was exciting to see him do so well,” said Demarco. “He felt very proud of himself for recovering so quickly.”
“I am very proud of myself for working hard and I’m excited to be able to do things that I couldn’t before,” says Beauchaine.
Once he felt comfortable walking again, he knew it was time to get back into sports. At that point in his life, he had never golfed competitively, but he remembered how his dad had found joy in the sport. So he began training in golf skills and soon took on alternate shot team play.
“I’m still learning every day,” says Beauchaine. “But I really love learning how to play and how to improve my strokes.”
And his willingness to learn, along with the determination he demonstrated after his surgery, helped him in winning a gold medal in golf earning him a chance to travel to Seattle for the 2018 USA Games.
Like Beauchaine, Andro Keck, a Special Olympics New Hanover County athlete, displays an immense amount of courage and determination for someone who just turned 18. From Special Olympics to JROTC to Boy Scouts, Keck always reminds himself to push himself to do his best, both on and off the course. He has carried that attitude with him into training for USA Games and will no doubt display it on the courses of Seattle.
“I have been playing golf on my own these last few years,” says Keck. “But I have improved so much just since our training camp in January.”
Since beginning their practices with Coach Vince Poweirski, Keck and Beauchaine have seen big improvements. Working on everything from hand placement on the club right down to how their knee turns when swinging, these golfers are hard at work perfecting their skills before heading to the west coast.
Being selected for the Games has been more than just a once in a lifetime experience for Keck. His personal growthin such a short amount of time has been inspiring for both him and his family to see.
“Vince has been able to teach Andro more than what he’s ever known,” explains Keck’s dad, Dan. “A year ago, the scores he has now would have him over the moon, but now he knows exactly what he can do and he is constantly striving to do better. It’s great to see him experience this.”
As the countdown to Seattle continues, this duo reflects on what it has taken to get them to this point and how their love for the game has only grown since learning they would be representing North Carolina.
Both Beauchaine and Keck are eager to see if the grass, or rather the course, really is greener on the other side of the country. Most of all though, they are ready to show the world exactly what Team NC Golf can do!
Although there is one thing that at least Beauchaine isn’t too excited about…
“Every time I go to the airport now, my knees set the alarms off,” laughs Beauchaine. “But as long as it gets me to Seattle, I guess it’s okay!”
Good luck in Seattle, Team NC Golf!