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Atkins senior receives golf scholarship to Johnson C. Smith

Isaiah Trollinger sits with his parents as he signs his letter of intent to attend Johnson C. Smith in the fall.

Atkins senior receives golf  scholarship to Johnson C. Smith
March 19
10:03 2020

Isaiah Trollinger will be heading off to Johnson C. Smith University in the fall, not for football or basketball, but for golf. Trollinger is the first golf athlete from the new Atkins to receive a golf scholarship.

Trollinger is a senior at Atkins High School and is also a member of the football team. Initially Johnson C. Smith was not his school of choice, as he and his parents had their sights set on Hampton University, but once they toured the campus and met the coaching staff, he quickly changed his mind.

“I was shocked at first, because the school was not on my radar,” said Trollinger. “I was honestly looking at going to Hampton and walking on, or not playing my freshman year and just trying to obtain a scholarship that way, but then Johnson C. Smith came along. Me and my mom went down there, and we liked the school and the money was good, so that was another factor.”

For years, Trollinger split time between football and golf. Throughout his high school career, he spent the months of August through November concentrating on football, which put him behind in his golf game. Now that he has the luxury of focusing solely on golf, he feels ready to step up his golf game.

“I feel like I’ll get even better than I was, because taking three months off hurts you more than you think,” he said. “You have other kids out here year-round and you’re taking three months off trying to play football, it hurts your game. So now that I know I can be out here full time, I just stay out here until dark every day.”

During his career at Atkins, Trollinger was usually one of the only African Americans on the course. He says that inspired him to continue to perform well on the course.

“It was different and most of my friends pick on me and call me Tiger Hood for instance, because we really don’t play golf and most of my friends play football and basketball,” he said. “They say I’m different, but it shows that just because you have a certain skin color, doesn’t mean that you can’t play a particular sport.”

Trollinger was introduced to golf by his father, Mike. It is a family tradition to hit the links on Sundays for the Trollinger clan.  

“It was my dad and my granddad that introduced the game to me, because they play with a group on Sundays and I started coming out here with them,” he continued. “I didn’t really get serious with it until high school, because I was playing a bunch of different sports before then.”

The most attractive qualities of the game of golf for Trollinger are the fact he gets to be out in nature and the mental aspect of the game.  

“It’s more mental than physical with golf and it’s the closest game to life in my opinion,” he said. “Golf is just like life; you’re gonna have good days and bad days, so you have to deal with the ups and downs and make the best of it.”

Trollinger has set several goals for himself for his freshman year in college. He would like to qualify for every match and to make the All-Conference team.

“I don’t expect to come in and be the best out of the gate, but by my senior year, I expect to be pretty good,” he went on to say.

The best quality of his game is getting off the tee, Trollinger said. He feels his most trusty club is the 3 wood and routinely goes to that club when he needs to hit it long on the fairway. On the other hand, he knows he needs work with his irons to improve his short game.

Trollinger credits his coaches at Atkins for helping him with the mental aspect of the game. He said they didn’t really mess with his swing, but helped him focus on the task at hand.

Trollinger’s father, Mike, said he wanted to introduce Isaiah to the game, because his father taught it to him. Mr. Trollinger played high school golf in Forsyth County as well, so he hoped his son would be attracted to the game also.

“My son came along and we introduced him to the game like my father did me, so he fell right in line, plus it’s fun to have three generations play golf on Sunday, to talk a little junk and have a good time,” said Mr. Trollinger.

Mr. Trollinger was a bit skeptical of his son going to Johnson C. Smith at first. Once Isaiah and his mother returned from their visit, Mr. Trollinger saw that the Golden Bulls were right for his son. Mr. Trollinger admits he wanted his son to attend Hampton University, but the happiness of his son was the most important factor.

Trollinger’s parents are more concerned with Isaiah making good grades than performing well on the course once he hits the Johnson C. Smith campus this fall. Isaiah knows he must do what it takes in the classroom, since it has been instilled in him to do so from the start of his elementary years.

Before Isaiah is done playing for the Golden Bulls, his father strongly believes he will become the No. 1 golfer on the team. Now that golf is his main focus, Mr. Trollinger thinks the sky is the limit for his son.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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