A high school golf team on Thursday admitted a championship win that let a team with an unqualified player who had missed a year due to cancer treatment take the grand prize.
Zach Hart, 19, was not eligible to compete with the Waterloo Oxford District Secondary School golf team at the WCSSAA Championship on Thursday due to his age.
But the team allowed him to participate and compete as an alternate because of the year he missed while being treated for a brain tumor, and another year missed due to the pandemic.
The Waterloo Oxford team won, but was told it could not submit Hart’s score and could only use the score of the other three players as the total.
“I was a qualified golfer, but they said that if we took my score, we would have been disqualified,” Zach said.
Zach Hart. (Regards Jessica Henderson)
Due to Hart’s inequality, the Bluevale Collegiate Institute won instead.
That is, until Bluevale players made a surprising decision.
“I forget which one, but one of them said pretty quickly,‘ It doesn’t feel right. Do we just like to lose or let them win somehow? ‘”Said Jason Forget, Bluevale Collegiate Institute’s golf coach.
In an act of true sportiness, each member of the Bluevale team disqualified themselves from the event, allowing Waterloo Oxford to win.
Glem has been training high school sports for 16 years and says he has never seen anything like it.
“It’s the proudest and nicest thing I’ve ever witnessed,” Glem said.
“It was really shocking, actually. I knew one of the kids on their team because we’ve played golf before, ”Hart said.
Waterloo Oxford Golf Team. (CTV Kitchener)
Hart was one of the best junior golfers in Canada in 2018 and won the Maple Leaf Junior Tour (MJT) National Championship. He was then diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2019.
“Where the brain tumor was, it pushed on his brain stem, and it pushed on the occipital nerve. So he lost all motor skills, ”said his father, Chris Hart.
After three brain surgeries and chemotherapy, Zach Hart is now fully treated and goes for MRI regularly.
“I swung a club 20 days after my first chemo cycle,” Hart said.
In 2020, Hart returned to school and graduated, but he was unable to compete in any sport due to the pandemic. So he returned to 2021 to play again.
“So he lost, lost, lost. So I was very proud of him for saying ‘Hi Dad, I’m going back to school, get a few points, play on the golf team, have some fun,’ Chris said.
Since his treatment, Hart has worked with Canadian Blood Services, the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario, the Ontario Hockey League, Bruce Power, BarDown.com and the SickKids Foundation.
Most recently, he began working with other young elite athletes who went on similar journeys as him, including a female tennis player with leukemia.
“It was one of the hardest things because I finally got to see what my parents saw,” Hart said. “In the spring, I would love to have a tennis match against her.”
Hart plans to continue swinging a club for as long as he can, hoping to create a professional career in golf.