Special Olympics Florida

12-year-old Jared Stancil has Down syndrome and excels at golf

By Kim Constantinesco via Purpose2Play

He may be 12 years old, but there’s much to envy about Jared Stancil’s golf game. His tee shots sail 180 yards straight down the middle of the fairway, his iron play is consistently good and his chipping game leaves short putts to capitalize on. It’s easy to see why the boy from Bradenton, Fla. who has Down syndrome is a national champion.

Jared and his father, Chad Stancil, took first place in unified golf at the nationally televised Special Olympics USA Games, held in Seattle in July. With the big win, where they averaged under-40 during their 9-hole rounds, they’ll defend their title in 2022 at the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando.

“Twelve years ago, you find out he has Down syndrome, and you have all these questions, and you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Chad told ABC Action News. “Then 12 years later, you’re out at nationals, and you’re watching him be happy and excel at golf.”

Jared first picked up a golf club at three years old, thanks to Chad who works at a golf course. In fact, the sport played an important role in helping Jared learn how to communicate with his parents.

“We actually taught him his letters and his letter sounds by lining up plastic letters in the house, and he would knock them over by putting them down,” his mother, Michele, told WWSB.

Fast forward nine years and Jared will tell you his favorite part of golf is chipping and putting, and that he doesn’t get nervous out there when he’s competing.  “No I don’t [feel nervous] because I be brave, and do my best, and play well,” he said.

And ask anyone. A partner who has a handle on his jitters makes for a fabulous teammate.  “Whenever I hit a bad shot, I always tell him, ‘You gotta pick me up!’” Chad said.

What a pair.