By Rick Sheek
This recruiting process began several years ago, and it cultimated on Thursday morning for Milligan College golf coach Tony Wallingford.
Happy Valley’s Nick Kyte signed to take his game to the next level at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse. Wallingford has had his eye on Kyte since the kid was a barely a teen-ager.
“I’ve been around Milligan my whole life, and I live right down the road probably less than a mile from it,” Kyte said. “The coach has been talking to me since I’ve been in middle school, so I’ve seen him about every week since then. I’ve always liked Milligan College, they’re a good Christian school with good academics, and the golf team is real good, too.”
Kyte qualified for the state tournament the past three falls, tooling his skills at Elizabethton Golf Club.
“The funny thing is we kind of grew up with Nick over there at Elizabethton,” Wallingford said. “I think I’ve been recruiting him since he was in middle school, and so now it’s real exciting that he’s actually signing with us and we’re going to have him as part of the program.”
While participating on the TGA Tour, Kyte qualified for The Virginian Championship twice, and in 2010 participated in the Toyota Tournament of Champions.
“As good a player he was, he was a better person,” Happy Valley coach Randy Ross said. “He was the leader for our team all year long, so I just really couldn’t ask for a better individual on that end.”
Kyte holds a 4.0 grade-point-average and is ranked No. 1 in his class. In his days on Warrior Hill, he has received the Chemistry Award, the Math Award and the English Award for his academic achievements.
“I think I’ll be able to make the team,” Kyte said. “They’re pretty good, but coming out of high school I think I’ll step in. Hopefully my shoulder will hold up till then. I’ve had a little trouble with that over the years.”
Looking at the graduating class of Buffs, Kyte is in an ideal situation for a freshman.
“Nick is a great fit for Milligan,” Wallingford said. “Excellent student. We think he’s got another level of golf potential, and he’s certainly already proven a lot as a junior.
“Really we think he’s got a ton of potential left, too, so we’re really excited. We have six seniors on the team, to there’s a wide-open kind of atmosphere for Nick to come in and maybe try to contribute as a freshman. I think that will be a big motivator for him.”
His high school coach isn’t betting against him. Kyte’s low round is 65, 31 for nine holes.
“I think he could,” Ross said. “I think he’s got the game to do that, and obviously they’ve been wanting him for a lot of years. They’ve been recruiting him for a lot of years, and I think he’ll actually improve a lot while he’s over here.
“He’s a very hard-working young man. He’s got the whole package — individual and player, too.”
And Kyte is ready for the college experience, and the man who has brought him onto this campus. Undecided on his major, he mentioned the medical field, statistics and biomedical engineering as interests.
“I like him,” Kyte said. “He’s a really good coach, and nice guy. I’m looking forward to him being my coach.”
Being committed to the one sport also intrigued the coach.
“Another thing is Nick plays year-round,” Wallingford said. “He plays all the summer tours, junior events. He’s not just seasonal.
“He’s got a great work ethic. He’s going to do nothing but get better, and we’re looking for some guys that can come in and maybe have a chance to help us.”