AROUND TOWN: Gwen Powell's birdies raising bucks

·4 min read

Jun. 26—North Pocono golfer Gwen Powell has lofty aspirations for her game.

The junior already is a two-time, District 2 Class 3A individual champion. She's also twice been named Times-Tribune Girls Player of the Year, and is a two-time state tournament qualifier.

But Powell's latest goal has nothing to do with achievements that will go on her golfing resume.

By the end of the year, Powell hopes her tournament play will help her raise $10,000 for two charitable organizations, the Scranton YMCA and the ACE (Achieving Competitive Excellence) grant program of the American Junior Golf Association, which helps junior golfers get scholarships for college.

So far, she's knocked in enough to raise $2,090, and added another $1,000 to her fund by scoring an ace Tuesday at Green Mountain National Golf Course in Killington, Vermont.

The bonus was pledged by one of her donors if she scored a hole in one. The 16-year-old cashed in at the American Junior Golf Association event with her first ace, helping her finish second overall.

"It was kind of between clubs but I hit a very solid shot with my 9-iron," Powell said of her into-the-wind shot on the 120-yard seventh hole. "It landed past the hole and spun back in the hole. I was more impressed that it spun back than the actual hole-in-one.

"So far I've played in five tournaments and I've made 11 birdies," Powell said. "You pledge a certain amount if I make a birdie."

Sponsors can continue to sign up to make a donation every time Powell knocks in a birdie during tournament play. Finding the pledge site is pretty simple. Type leadershiplinks.org into the browser, then search for Powell's name. Donate a specific amount, or a per-birdie pledge.

Powell's efforts for the Scranton YMCA will specifically benefit the diabetes and wellness program.

"I did that because a lot of people in my family have diabetes," said Powell, who hopes to become an endocrinologist focusing on diabetes. "I wanted to help counteract the growing (cases of) diabetes in America. According to the American Diabetes Association, they're expecting 1.4 million Americans to get diabetes in the next year."

The idea to use her tournament schedule as a fundraiser came from another girl on the AJGA Tour last summer. She was raising funds for her local fire company.

"That inspired me," Powell said. "I think that golf is a very giving game. I thought it would be a great way to give back to my community in a cause that I am for.

"I play for myself obviously, but now I have to think about playing for raising money. It helps me focus and motivates me to play well."

Turn two

Congratulations to a pair of Abington Heights grads, Cory and Julie (Umerich) Spangenberg, who welcomed their second daughter, Emma Marie, on Wednesday.

Emma joins sister Maddie, 2, at home. Cory was the No. 1 amateur baseball draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 2011 and plays for the Memphis Redbirds, the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, while Julie has a pretty fair sports history herself as a three-time Lackawanna League softball all-star.

Rice on the menu

The golf part of the day is booked solid, but some seats for the University of Scranton's Peter Carlesimo Golf Tournament and Awards Dinner are available. Tony Rice, Notre Dame's quarterback of the 1988 national championship team, will be the recipient of this year's award, which will be presented Monday at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, New Jersey. For dinner info, email the executive director of development, eric.eckenrode@scranton.edu.

Tee it high

Two other golf tournaments are right on course for their events, the 20th annual Brian Forgione Foundation Tournament is slated July 30 at Sand Springs Golf Club in Drums. More than $200,000 in charitable donations and scholarships have been presented since the event's inception.

This even fills up quickly. Contact brianforgionefoundation@gmail.com or call Michael Coleman, 570-903-5713, for more info.

North Pocono Public Library's second annual tournament will be at Elmhurst Country Club on Aug. 8. Former WNEP-TV sports director Jim Coles and Ed Steinmetz, senior veep of finance for the University of Scranton, are co-chairmen. Last year's tourney was filled, and two golfers scored hole-in-ones, claiming fabulous prizes.

Information on the North Pocono Library tourney is available on the library's Facebook page, or by contacting development director Chris Kelly at ckelly@albright.org, or by calling 570-842-4700, ext. 307.

MARTY MYERS is a Times-Tribune sports writer. His Around Town column appears Sundays. Contact him at mmyers@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100, ext. 5437; or follow him on Twitter @mmyersTT.

MARTY MYERS is a Times-Tribune sports writer. His Around Town column appears Sundays. Contact him at mmyers@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100, ext. 5437; or follow him on Twitter @mmyersTT.