Nearly 90 girls from 12 states and the District of Columbia are residing at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart’s boarding school this summer while being given the opportunity to caddie daily at golf courses along Chicago’s North Shore. Woodlands Academy, an all-girls college-preparatory high school in Lake Forest, is hosting the Western Golf Association’s (WGA) Caddie Academy for the second year in a row.
When the steadily growing program found itself in need of larger quarters last year, Woodlands was chosen to host the 2016 program based on factors including location, availability and facility quality. Prior to that, Caddie Academy had been housed in the Evans Scholarship House on the campus of Northwestern University since its 2012 inception with an inaugural class of 12 that year.
“Woodlands Academy proved to be an unbelievable fit for our fifth summer of the Caddie Academy, and we are very excited about returning this year as well as the future of our partnership,” said Mike Maher with the WGA, who oversees Caddie Academy. “We are so thankful to the staff at Woodlands again this year for their generous hospitality to the 89 young women who are a part of our 2017 program.”
And Woodlands Academy is proud to once again serve as host this year. Head of School Meg Steele believes Caddie Academy is an ideal summertime use for Woodlands’ boarding school, which houses international students and five-day boarders during the school year. “Woodlands Academy, which is all about educating girls in transformative ways, is again proud to welcome this unique program offering so many experiences and opportunities to high school girls from across the country,” she said.
This year’s seven-week program, which began June 19, provides female high school students an opportunity they otherwise wouldn’t have to experience the benefits of caddying – from learning life lessons to being around successful adults – by working at one of 13 participating area golf and country clubs. It also offers special outings and field trips, career talks from successful female leaders, and standardized test prep training.
Participants are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and/or areas that don’t offer caddie opportunities. More than 90 percent are minorities. Those who complete the multi-year program can then apply for the Evans Scholarship. This full tuition and housing college grant, so far, has been awarded to 23 participants.
One recent Woodlands Academy alumna who won an Evans Scholarship after completing Caddie Academy is giving back to the program this summer. Erika Rodriguez of Chicago was a 2016 scholarship recipient. Upon completion of her freshman year at Northwestern University, Rodriguez is back on the Woodlands campus serving as a Caddie Academy counselor. Her duties will include supervising and mentoring the girls, as well as driving them to their respective clubs each day.
This year’s partnering clubs include Conway Farms Golf Club, Evanston Golf Club, Exmoor Country Club, The Glen Club, Glen View Club, Indian Hill Club, Knollwood Club, Merit Club, Onwentsia Club, Northmoor Country Club, Skokie Country Club, Twin Orchard Country Club and Westmoreland Country Club.
Caddie Academy is a core part of the Evans Scholars Foundation’s plans for growth, with a goal of sending 1,000 caddies to college annually by 2020. Funding for this summertime activity comes from a private donor as well as proceeds from the annual Women’s Invitational golf outing, now in its third year.
Based on the success of the girls’ Caddie Academy, which has “exceeded our wildest expectations,” Maher announced the launch of a new program for boys this summer. A group of six young men, based at the Northwestern Evans Scholar House in Evanston, will caddie at new WGA partnering clubs along the North Shore. “We’re excited to be able to expand the opportunity to introduce golf and caddying to a new group of underserved youth, who we ultimately hope will become successful applicants for the Evans Scholarship,” Maher said.
Founded in 1858, Woodlands Academy is an independent Catholic college preparatory day and boarding high school for young women. It’s part of a worldwide network of Sacred Heart Schools that spans the United States and 40 other countries. A nonprofit, Woodlands Academy’s identity is rooted in Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat’s desire to inspire young hearts and minds to excel, to lead lives of integrity and to serve. For more information about Woodlands Academy, please visit www.woodlandsacademy.org
Eighty-nine girls from across the country are based at Woodlands Academy in Lake Forest, which is hosting the 2017 Western Golf Association’s Caddie Academy. Shown here are 2016 participants outside the school’s main entrance.