For the Ford and Andrea Schwartz family of San Jose, California, the world of junior golf has been a great avenue from which to advance a positive message about home education.
The couple has three children, Anthony, 23, Rachel, 17 and Dorothy, 9. While Anthony plays recreationally and Dorothy is tipped to be a great player in the future, Rachel is currently showing great potential in the golf world, as evidenced by her qualifying for two major events last year.
Rachel qualified for the prestigious Junior World Golf Championship in San Diego, held last July. In her age group, she was one of 142 players from 43 countries in the event, held at the famous Torrey Pines course. She managed to finish 28th in the elite field.
Rachel also qualified for the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur Championship (held last year near Kansas City), the same event where Tiger Woods began making waves on the men's side. Only 156 players make the field out of several hundred who attempt to qualify.
Andrea said that for Rachel, golf has been an opportunity to live out the idea of doing all things to the glory of God.
"The thing we try to instill in them is, whether it's golf, music or math, we pursue things with the idea that you're really doing it all out," Andrea said. "It can't be a half-baked thing. Not that she's punished if she doesn't play well of course, but this is something you're doing for the honor and glory of God, and you don't do it halfway. You give the best effort you can at everything."
"For Rachel, this is the thing that can show her who she is," Andrea said. "She can sit down and take an SAT and not break a sweat. But this is a real challenge for her."
Rachel voices a similar sentiment.
"Right now my goal is to be the best college player that I can be," Rachel said. "I really want to see where my potential can take me."
Rachel intends to enroll in college in the Fall of 2003. She is already attracting interest from college coaches. She said that being a home schooler has helped with golf in some practical ways.
"It has allowed me to play and practice at odd hours. I live in a busy area where the courses get a lot of play," she said. "Because (of home schooling's flexible schedule) I can go out and play when the courses are not in use. Plus, just about every Monday I went out and played with my dad, and that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been in home school."
Andrea noted how Rachel's golf travels have doubled as opportunities to espouse the virtues of home schooling.
"Usually you end up watching the tournament with other parents, and you end up knowing a lot about each other," Andrea said. "My husband and I make a point to let others know we're Christians and that we're home schoolers.
"She gets grilled about it, not in a bad sense, but just out of curiosity. They'll say ' You're a home schooler? Gosh! You're so well-adjusted.' I think it's allowed us to provide a testimony to the fact that it's a legitimate alternative," Andrea said.
Andrea added that she often hears a refrain from parents that is familiar to many home school families, that home schooling seems like a good thing and that they wish they could have the commitment to do it. Andrea tells them to consider the possibilities, and that a committed parent most definitely can do it.
Commitment is something the Schwartz family is demonstrating they know all about.
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