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Methacton’s Vance plays inspired amid father’s illness, earns second All-Area honor

A father and son share a bond that can’t easily be broken.

Methacton junior Kyle Vance and his father are a testament to that bond.

Three years after he was diagnosed with a rare disease known as amyloidosis, Vance’s father, Jeff, never let his illness get in the way of doing what he loves the most — being a dad.KVance4

Along with his wife, Sue, Vance’s parents didn’t miss a single Methacton golf match this past season. Sweating through the early dog days of August and bundling up during the cold, breezy days of October, the Vances played just as crucial of a role to the Warriors’ golf team as their youngest son, Kyle.

“They were there cheering me on every step of the way,” said Kyle Vance. “I know it meant the world for my parents to be out there watching. And for me, it meant everything to have them out there with me.”

After putting together another remarkable season where he defended his PAC-10 Individual title and went on to earn his second trip to the state tournament, Vance has been named the Mercury’s All-Area Boys Golfer of the Year for the second consecutive season.

The award has stayed in the Vance family the past five seasons. The oldest Vance brother, Ryan, captured it during his senior season, followed by a two-year stint by the middle brother, Brandon. As the youngest brother, it’s a tradition Kyle is proud to keep in the family.

“Ever since Brandon won it my freshman season, I knew it was up to me to keep it going,” said Kyle Vance. “That’s meant a lot to all of us as a family — to receive that recognition is amazing. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun playing alongside him (Brandon) when I was a freshman, so it’s fun to carry on that legacy.”

Methacton's Kyle Vance hits his tee shot at Gilbertsville Golf Course Monday.

Methacton’s Kyle Vance hits his tee shot at Gilbertsville Golf Course Monday.

Family has been a key component to all of the Vance boys’ success. And Jeff was there every to see it all this past season despite suffering from amyloidosis.

According to WebMD, amyloidosis is a condition in which an abnormal protein called amyloid builds up in tissues and organs. When it does, it affects their shape and how they work. The disease can lead to life-threatening organ failure. Amyloidosis is often classified as an “orphan” disease, meaning that it effects less than 200,000 members of the U.S. population.

“My dad told me that watching me play gives him life,” said Vance. “I’ll never forget that. It always kept his mind off everything that he was going through. As much as I love to play, my dad fell in love with watching me play.”

“Kyle knows that watching him play — for me, it’s like therapy,” said Jeff Vance. “Being able to go out there and watch him do what he loves gives me something to look forward to every single day.

“It’s a pleasure to watch him achieve all of the goals he’s set for himself. He’s been so dedicated, so motivated. I couldn’t be more proud to watch him every match.”

Vance’s father would give that same fist pump as his son reached down to pick an eagle out of the cup. He’d wear that same smile as he watched the ball fly down the center of the fairway off the tee. He’d grit his teeth just like Kyle in the rare time a shot got away from him.

“My dad knows my game just as well as I do,” said Vance. “If I’m ever having a bad round or hit a bad shot, he always knows what to say. He’s not coaching me or telling me what to do, he’s just getting me refocused for the next one.”

With a renewed focus, Vance and his Warrior teammates turned in another strong season.

Though he was battling his illness all season, Jeff was there to see it all from start to finish.

He was there all four times his son finished a round under-par during the regular season.

He was there to watch Kyle defend his PAC-10 title shooting an even-par 71 at Gilbertsville.

He was there when Vance led his team to its third straight PAC-10 nine-hole team title at Gilbertsville with a 3-under 32.

He was there to see Vance take first place at the District 1 Tournament, bettering the field by 10 strokes at Turtle Creek during the two-day tournament.

He was there when his son finished second after a playoff hole during the PIAA East Regionals after shooting a 3-under 69.

He was there for Vance’s 21st place finish at the PIAA-AAA Championships to end the season.

He was there for every drive, every chip, every putt.

“He was there,” smiled Vance. “There were times when I wasn’t sure he’d be able to come out and watch me play. For me, there’s nothing more I can ask for than to have him out with me cheering me on. It means the world to me, and I know it means everything to him and my mom, too.”

“Those two are amazing,” said Methacton head coach Kevin Flanagan of Vance’s parents. “They’ve made such a big impact, not just on Kyle, but on our entire team.

“They love being out there in that atmosphere. When the guys are coming off the course with their scores after the round, (Kyle’s parents) are cheering everyone on, not just Kyle.”

Methacton's Kyle Vance follows through with an iron shot at Gilbertvsille Golf Course where he won the PAC-10 boys championship.

Methacton’s Kyle Vance follows through with an iron shot at Gilbertvsille Golf Course where he won the PAC-10 boys championship.

Having his parents there played a major key to his success this past season.

“It’s always a great feeling to make a birdie or post a good score,” said Vance, “but with him there it becomes that much better. He and my mom are the first ones I hear clapping and cheering for me when I do something good. That motivates me to keep playing well and keep them cheering.”

This past season, Vance gave his parents plenty to cheer about. Prior to his remarkable season with the Warriors, he spent the summer playing various tournaments around the country. He placed first in the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Championship in Easton, Md., with a 9-under 207 across the three-day tournament. In June, he also won the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) Junior Boys’ title at Indian Valley.

“Golf has taken Kyle to some amazing places,” said Flanagan. “He knows he’s good; he knows he’s generally the top player anytime he steps onto the course. But he never comes off that way. He’s got a great demeanor both as a player and a person — that says a lot about both him and his family.”

“Kyle puts in all the work,” said Jeff Vance, “it’s my job just to get him wherever he needs to be.

“With everything I’m going through, I’m so proud of Kyle and how strong he’s been,” said Jeff Vance. “He could have given up everything and just worried about me, but he didn’t. He’s seen my fight, and has been fighting just for me.”

Vance always knew he had a talent for golf. Following his freshman year at Methacton, he decided to hang up his basketball sneakers and focus all of his offseason time to staying in shape and sharpening his skills.

“My dad’s first love was watching and coaching me in basketball, so that wasn’t an easy decision for me,” said Vance of quitting basketball after his freshman year. “Once I was able to devote all of that time and keep getting better at golf, he started to come around. By now, I think I finally have him convinced.”

Vance emerged with the Methacton golf program in convincing fashion. Since he joined the Warriors’ roster during his freshman season, the team boasts a 34-3 overall record and has also hoisted three consecutive PAC-10 team championships. Individually, Vance has earned two state tournament berths and won two PAC-10 Individual titles.

Even greater than any swing coach or any caddy, there is nobody more important to Vance’s golf game than his parents.

His showing on the final hole of East Regionals at Golden Oaks serves as evidence.

Down a stroke with Central York’s Gus Minkin putting for a birdie, Vance sank a 45-foot eagle putt from the fairway to stay alive and push a playoff.

Despite the gallery filled with people cheering him on, Vance locked eyes with and smiled at two members of the crowd.

The ones who had been there all along.

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