Three years ago, Ricky Kordish was at a crossroads in his athletic career.
A concussion sustained as a freshman football player at Lackawanna Trail left him wondering what he would do athletically.
"It was pretty scary," he said. "I was told I had to give up [contact sports]."
Kordish had previously sustained two concussions playing basketball and two more while wrestling, but the football one ended up being the worst and caused the athlete to ponder how he was going to channel his competitive spirit.
"It was difficult. I've always been an aggressive kid," Kordish, who played outside linebacker and running back, said. "I liked getting out there on the football field and hitting someone."
The concussions also eliminated baseball and track as outlets for his aggression, so Kordish needed some other sport. He turned to golf.
"That's how we got him," said Lackawanna Trail golf coach Harry Powell, who is also the school's athletic director. "I know that one of the wrestling [concussions] was a slam. It got to the point where he was better off giving up those sports."
So Kordish took up golf as a sophomore last year, figuring out how to turn his talents in his former sports into success on the course.
One thing was certain - he would have the drive to improve.
"He's committed. He joined Rock Creek [the Lions home course] and spent a lot of time on the driving range," Powell said. "He works very hard at his game and puts a lot of time into it."
Kordish quickly became a top player for the Lions, qualifying for the District 2 Championships as a junior, leading to heightened expectations with a year of experience under his belt.
It's so far, so good, this season for the senior.
"The season has gone pretty well. I qualified for districts again," Kordish said.
But his voice dropped into a disappointed tone, with the knowledge that his score was something a little higher than he anticipated.
"I shot a 91," Kordish said, sounding disgusted with the number he posted at Elmhurst Country Club at the Lackawanna League district qualifier. "I had a rough start. Nerves were part of it. Once I got over that, I started making pars."
But there were enough holes where the senior shot bogeys or worse, and Kordish wasn't pleased with one aspect of his game that day.
"I wasn't good at reading the speed of the greens. They were playing fast that day," Kordish said. "The trouble was my speed on downhill putts; I had too much respect for them. I'd leave the first putt short, and that would leave me with another downhill putt."
The round surprised Powell a little.
"He's been pretty consistent this year," Powell said. "He had some trouble with the putter at Elmhurst, but he's not used to that course. We've talked it, that he needs to be below the hole. Being above the hole, he was tentative and left himself with another downhiller. He has to make sure he's got a comebacker up hill."
Despite the sluggish round that day, Kordish will take a good attitude into the district championships, which will also be held at Elmhurst on Monday, Oct. 7.
"I'm usually a good lag putter," Kordish said. "I'm going to have to shoot for below the pins at Elmhurst."
Solid off the tee, and usually accurate on his approach shots, the Lions' only district qualifier considers putting as the wild card in his game. If he can put it all together, Kordish has every right to feel good about scoring well in his biggest tournament of the fall season.
"I drive the ball pretty straight, and my iron play is solid," Kordish said. "My putter held me back a little bit that day."
He has had enough time to get that part of his game under control with plenty of work on the greens, and awaits the district meet with anticipation.
"I spend a lot of time practicing my stroke, doing drills every day to make sure I'm putting well," Kordish said. "I was putting pretty well until pre-districts; that was a bad day with the putter."
Considering what he has gone through to get to his senior golf season, getting his putter in shape for another round at Elmhurst would seem to be an easy task for the competitive Kordish.
He is using his experience to be a leader for the rest of his teammates, eager to pass along his knowledge and encouragement.
"It's been a tough season for the team, but we have a lot of good younger kids who will be good in the upcoming years," said Kordish, who has been paired with many of them this year. "I like to show them what to do in certain situations, so they'll know what to do next year."
By that time, Kordish hopes to be playing golf in college while pursuing a degree in the natural gas industry, which intrigues the senior. Kordish won't be afraid of the hard work that is ahead of him - he already knows he has the mental toughness to adjust to anything.