Taking the lead at every opportunity

(PRINEVILLE) – Merritt O’Gorman likes to stay busy.

As she ticks off a variety of activities that fill her schedule, in school and from home, a bright smile accompanies the words. She reveals her lifelong love of golf and her accolades on the course, and talks about her participation in leadership class, which has led to her holding two positions in the past couple of school years. She has committed her spare hours outside of school to competitive dance, which has taken her to contests all over Oregon and Washington, and she has also participated for years in 4-H, raising a steer each year.

“It has definitely become a lifestyle,” she admits.

O’Gorman has been golfing since she was 3 years old.

“Ever since I was able to swing a club,” she said. Before high school, when she could finally join a school-affiliated team, she competed during the summer at tournaments through the Central Oregon Junior Golf Association.

Her first high school season was interrupted by the emergence of COVID-19, but she still managed to compete in an unofficial state tournament and place second. Under more normal circumstances, her team won the league the next season, and she placed second overall. She then went on to place 10th at the state tournament. In her junior year, her team not only won the league title but also won state, and she again placed in the top 10. So far, her senior season is going well

“We are winning most of our tournaments,” O’Gorman said, and she expects the team to win the league again and fare well at state.

Golf is more than her top high school sport — it’s a family affair. Her parents were high school golf coaches, with her mom coaching at Crook County and her dad in Hermiston. They met at a tournament.

“So, it was always kind of our family thing.”

O’Gorman’s interest in leadership blossomed in eighth grade when she attended a leadership class. She continued with the class when she started high school, and she started seeking out school leadership positions as a sophomore.

“I got more involved,” she said.

During her junior year, she served as director of athletics and academics. This year, she is the director of activities, which means she is in charge of helping organize dances and other school functions.

“I think I have always taken on a leadership position in whatever I have done,” she reflects. “I really enjoy school and being involved, and leadership is my way to be as involved as I can be.”

More recently, during her leadership studies, Merritt learned to handle criticism, failure and other adversity. She points out that not everything goes how people want it to, and how they handle it matters.

“I have been trying to take that to heart.”

Adversity struck early in Merritt’s life. When she was 7 years old, her dad was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away when she was 11. Looking back, she believes it played a role in her desire to stay busy.

“I think it is one of my coping mechanisms,” she said.

Her mother, meanwhile, has seen another consistent trait in Merritt that has helped her through the years: hope. She has always approached life with a hopeful outlook.

Merritt is eager to graduate and move on to Oregon State University, the next chapter in her journey. She plans to pursue an education degree and become a teacher. She will continue playing golf, either collegiately or as a personal hobby. She hasn’t ruled out the possibility of being a teacher and coach at some point.

“I’m excited to go out on my own, to be my own person,” she said.

And for those students who will walk through the Crook County High School doors after she has moved on, she offers them this advice, plucked from her own experiences: “Try to be as involved as possible because it does go by quickly.”


Recent Blogs