A talented county golfer who is part of the England under-16 regional squad is the latest addition to a select group of rising young county stars being given a helping hand in their careers by a Shrewsbury-based sports coaching company.
Crossbar Coaching Education in Sport, who deliver sport across the curriculum to a host of county primary schools and also run popular holiday clubs, introduced their Fantastic Five last year.
It is their way of helping raise the profile of gifted sporting youngsters around Shropshire while also providing some financial assistance, support and guidance.
Sophie Johnson, 14, from Shawbirch, is the fourth recruit to be selected by Crossbar – with one spot still remaining.
Crossbar director Gavin Cowan, a former Shrewsbury Town footballer, said he has been impressed with Sophie’s dedication which marks her out as one to watch in the golfing world.
“I’m very impressed with everything I’ve seen of Sophie and her approach to golf,” he added. “She’s very talented and also extremely dedicated. She also has a very good support system in place through her parents.”
Sophie, a Year 9 pupil at Thomas Telford School – for whom she played football at Wembley last year – is a member of Telford Golf Club, where she plays junior competitions, while she also represents the ladies scratch team at Wrekin Golf Club.
Sophie helped Telford Golf Club qualify for the final of the Shropshire and Herefordshire Junior Handicap League while she recently won her first match in the national Mail on Sunday competition for Wrekin.
A regular trophy winner, she claimed a hat-trick of titles at Telford last season, including the Ladies Club Championship – where she scored the lowest gross score over 36 holes – and the RNLI, a mixed competition.
Sophie also hinted at her potential nationally with a strong performance at the England Golf under-14 Championships held at Copt Heath Golf Club at Solihull.
A level par round on the second 18 holes had her flying high in sixth spot before eventually finishing 17th. She hopes to achieve a top 10 place when the event is held at Royal Cromer Golf Club in Norfolk this year.
Sophie’s most memorable tournament so far was the Scottish under-14 Championships at Bothwell Castle where she had the opportunity to play her first level par round.
Playing with two other girls from France and Germany, it provided her with a true feeling of what it is like to play international golf.
Sophie admits she would love to be selected to represent England in an away tournament to experience playing golf overseas.
Mum Yvonne said: “Sophie is hoping with the help from Crossbar Coaching and Gavin that she will get the support she needs to make this happen.
“The sport of golf is very expensive as it is not just the equipment that is needed for there is also travel expenses, hotel fees and competition entries.”
Sophie trains twice a month with the England Golf under-16 regional squad where they focus on short game practice, course management and competition preparation.
They also have strength and conditioning training at The Belfry every week.
As part of England golf for three consecutive years, Sophie, who also plays for the county junior handicap team and county ladies first team, has seen her handicap reduced from 18 to five.
Sophie also tasted regional success last season when she won the Midland North under-18 Girls 36 Hole Championships held at Trentham Golf Club. She hopes to retain her title this season.
Sophie joins three other talented sporting youngsters from around the county as members of Crossbar’s Fantastic Five.
They are Shrewsbury cyclist Beth Coupland, Telford youngster Mai-Lei King, who has made her mark nationally in Crossfit, and Broseley’s Ross Turner, a regular on the leaderboard for top national motorcycling events.
If you would like to be considered for the final spot in Crossbar’s Famous Five, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured: Promising young golfer Sophie Johnson, 14, with Gavin Cowan, the director of Crossbar Coaching Education in Sport.