Wednesday afternoon was an thrilling time for Eastern Alamance golfing standout Nick Mathews, as the Eagles senior signed his National Letter of Intent to play golf collegiately at N.C. State. Wednesday was the first day around the country that top prospects could sign with their preferred colleges.
“It’s an exciting day. To be able to sign on a day like today (the first day of the National Signing Period), it tells a little about you, and your commitment to N.C. State,” Eastern High School athletic director John Kirby said to Mathews. “We’re very proud of you. You’re a golfing family - it’s really awesome. It makes us proud. Make us prouder - and I’m sure you will one day when you’re on tour.”
Eastern High golf coach J.T. Kirby, who helped lead the Eagles to the NCHSAA 3A state championship finals last spring in his first year as head coach, spoke about the competitive drive that has propelled Mathews into one of the top prep golfers in the state of North Carolina - a young man who qualified this past summer to play in the U.S. Amateur National tournament.
“I stepped in as the golf coach last year, and I was really lucky. Guys like Nick and Caden (Baker), they made me look pretty smart when I got up there. We were pretty good. Nick was a big part of that,” Kirby said.
Kirby recalled memories of a young Nick Mathews at South Mebane Elementary, where a hint of that competitive drive that has made him such an excellent young golfer was already beginning to appear.
“One of my first memories of Nick, I used to work at South Mebane (Elementary’s) Daycare way back in the day. A lot of people don’t know, but he might be a better Battle Ball player than he probably is a golfer,” Kirby said. “What I do remember from that time there - he was in the fifth grade, I guess - he’s always been really competitive. He’s always had that drive. You can just tell he wants to win. He wants to beat somebody. That’s what he’s all about.”
“I think from that time on, you can kind of see that’s a kid who is dedicated to what he’s doing,” Kirby continued. “And I think he’s done that over the years. He’s put a lot of hard work in. He’s done what it takes to get to this point. He’s got a great support group over here with him - his parents. I’ve seen his mom and dad out there when it’s freezing cold outside. I’ve seen him with his sister practicing - that’s probably the best practice partner you can have. So he’s got a great support group around him. He’s just an example of a guy that we’ve got here at school that does everything he’s supposed to do, both in the classroom and out there in his sport. Which is why he’s been given this opportunity to go to N.C. State. We’re definitely proud of him. We’re excited to see where the future is going to take him - both on the course, and off the course. And we’re really grateful that we get to have him for another spring.”
Just before signing his National Letter of Intent with the Wolfpack, Mathews thanked his family and friends, along with the staff at Eastern High, for all their help over the years.
“First and foremost, I want to thank my family and my sister for making endless sacrifices, and always supporting me and encouraging me. Secondly, I’d like to thank all you guys for being here, and always motivating me to try and get better. I’d like to thank the teachers and staff here (at Eastern High) for doing the same thing - just motivating me and encouraging me,” Mathews stated.
Mathews mother, father, and his younger sister - EAHS women’s golf standout Emily Mathews - each expressed their pride in how far he has come as a golfer and as a young man.
“I just know that it takes a lot of dedication and commitment to rise to the level of being a D-1 athlete,” Mathews’ mother said. “And I am so impressed with your work ethic, and how much time and effort you put into your sport, and what kind of person you are. So I’m excited to see where you go from here.”
“Nick, we’re just really proud of you,” added Mathews’ father. “We’ve seen the hard work you put in every day. You’re focused and dedicated. Both academically and athletically, we couldn’t be prouder.”
“I’m just extremely proud of you,” added Mathews’ sister Emily. “I’ve looked up to you since day one. For you to be here today, it’s amazing.”