CONOVER, N.C. -- Brad and D’Linda Neidy were on a small hill overlooking the 18th hole here at the Rock Barn Golf & Spa, watching carefully as their daughter Taylor finished Thursday’s second day of competition in the NCAA Division II national championships.
There was no yelling encouragement to Taylor, who had graduated from Central Oklahoma with a business degree just five days before. That kind of thing is frowned upon in golf, and Lord knows millions of young athletes around the country wish it was in their sport as well. No, Brad and D’Linda are here to support Taylor and that’s it.If there was any discussion of what she did right or wrong, it waited for later. And if the truth be known, it likely came from Mom. Whatever was said or not said must have worked, because Taylor was as high as third on the individual leaderboard before play completed on Friday.
Brad has been an Oklahoma state trooper for the past 30 years, while D’Linda runs a small advertising agency out of their home. The fact that they’re here for Taylor this week isn’t anything out of the ordinary for the family. Her parents have always attended every event possible, just as they do for her younger sister, Paige, a high-school senior back in their hometown of Clinton, Oklahoma.
“It means a lot to me,” Taylor said after Thursday’s round. “I appreciate the support. They followed me all around junior golf, so it’d be kind of weird without them here.”
To do what the Neidys do and to do it so regularly requires planning of almost epic proportions. Over the past four year of Taylor’s college career at Central Oklahoma, Brad and/or D’Linda have been to California three times; Phoenix; Florida twice; Georgia twice; Louisville, Kentucky.; and here to good ol’ Conover twice.
That’s not all. D’Linda took in the DII Central super regionals in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, where Central Oklahoma took the team title and Taylor the individual. Brad was back in Oklahoma for Paige’s high school golf championship. Here this week, it was D’Linda who planned to go home Friday for Paige’s prom.
It’s what parents do for their children.
Brad is a troop commander, with three supervisors and 20 other troops under him. He’s accumulated a lot of vacation over the years, and if he needs to use it and delegate responsibilities to remain a big part of his daughters’ lives, that’s exactly what he’s going to do.
“We’ve just tried to work our schedules out the best we can,” Brad said. “We didn’t want to miss anything. You only get one shot at this, really. We’ve tried to work around it. It’s been pretty hectic sometimes.
“It’s nerve-wracking watching them play, because you know, ‘Oh boy, that’s a hard shot.’ Sometimes, you have to sit back and put it in perspective that it’s just a game. We’re just blessed that we get to do this.”
After all these years and her own graduation just a few days ago, Taylor knows exactly what her parents are thinking just from the looks on their faces. They don’t need to yell. They don’t need to shout instructions, encouragement or anything else.
Just a look, that’s all it takes.
“I can tell you what they’re both thinking pretty much every moment,” Taylor said. “That’s in the back of your mind, but you’ve just got to keep playing.”
Dad might be a state trooper and all, used to handing out speeding tickets, making arrests and so forth. But when Taylor was asked about law enforcement in her own home and who might have been tougher, her answer was swift and sure.
“I could always get by with a lot more with Dad,” Taylor admitted. “She usually wouldn’t let us get by with anything. Dad kind of let it go.”
What did D’Linda have to say about all this?
“No, it’s fine,” she said. “Everybody who knows about me knows that. We’re so proud. We’ve been blessed by two daughters who are both good kids. He never had to stop her because she knew better. She’s very conservative and drives like Grandma. They’re good kids.”
“Our daughters have played three sports all through high school,” Brad added. “They’ve been blessed with talent, but they’ve never given us one bit of trouble for one day. It’s just been fun being around them.”