HENDERSON — Crossroads Christian golfer Tyler Darnell formally capped off his stellar career at the school by signing his letter of intent on Friday afternoon to play for Chowan University beginning next spring.
Tyler, who helped the men’s golf team bring home the first NCISAA Championship in Crossorads’ history, admitted that he is still trying to process the idea of starting college but is eager to carry over his success from high school into Chowan’s program.
“There’s a lot of emotions with me and my family,” Tyler said. “We’re getting through it and we’re all very excited to take this next step.”
Tyler’s love for golf stems from his father James Darnell, who ended up taking over as Crossroads’ head coach for 2021 after the previous coach in Finley Woodward moved away following the shortened 2020 season.
Having coached Tyler for all his life, James is proud that his son will be able to continue playing golf at the collegiate level and attributed the opportunity to Tyler’s determination towards improving himself both on and off the course.
“As a person, Tyler has gotten more mature and that comes with growing up,” James said. “As far as golf goes, he hits the ball a ton and he can really get his way around the course. I hope he continues to improve while also focusing on his schoolwork.”
Tyler’s improvement and maturity were on display throughout the 2021 season, as he placed fourth in the NCISAA 1A individual rankings before shooting a 79 in the state tournament, which was crucial in giving Crossroads the championship.
Tyler believed that Crossroads could have won a championship in 2020 if the season was not cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that waiting an extra year helped give him and his teammates the motivation they needed to help Crossroads reach that long-awaited milestone.
“We were definitely disappointed after the season got cancelled last year,” Tyler said. “All of us were hungry this year so we dug in and took this seriously. Winning the title means a lot to me and I know it does to the rest of the team as well.”
Crossroads athletic director Scottie Richardson praised Tyler for the hard work he put in to help the school obtain its first state championship and is confident that Tyler can accumulate several more accomplishments on Chowan’s team before he graduates in a few years.
“We could not be more proud for Tyler and his family,” Richardson said. “[Tyler] was a complimentary player during his first two years but this season he took the bull by the horns. He was a kid who won the MVP in our conference tournament and that means he had to beat out another great golfer on our team in Caden Woodward, so he went into the state tournament with so much confidence.”
Tyler will be joining former Crossroads golfer Noah Pendergrass on Chowan’s men’s golf roster, who made history in 2019 by becoming the first student athlete in school history to accept a paid scholarship.
Tyler is honored to join a growing list of Crossroads athletes who are playing at the collegiate level in their respective sports and he intends to represent the school proudly when he steps out onto a golf course as a member of Chowan for the first time.
“I’ll always remember that state championship,” Tyler said. “I’ll also remember the friends I’ve made here and the help that Coach Richardson, my family and so many others have given me during these last few years.”
Tyler has not yet decided on his major at Chowan but is considering pursuing a degree in the business field.