AUSTIN, Texas — The Westlake Boys Golf team won its sixth straight state title on Tuesday at Legacy Hills Golf Club in Sun City. The Chaparrals were led by sophomore Adam Villanueva, whose 12-under performance earned him first place individually.
"The sky is the limit for this kid. I just think he's one of the best players we've ever had at Westlake, and he's only finishing up his second year," longtime Westlake head coach Callan Nokes told KVUE.
Villanueva won the individual crown by four strokes.
"I knew all along that I could do it, and like my Dad said, I thank God for every single moment," Villanueva said.
"He's just incredibly talented and a wonderful young man," added Nokes, who is stepping down as Westlake's head coach with nine team state championships. "[He's] very coachable."
But behind the success of this talented and wonderful young man is sinking loss. Just one month before the biggest tournament of his life, Villanueva's older sister, Samantha, passed away at 25.
"When she passed, it was very emotional for me," Villanueva said.
Diagnosed with epilepsy at 20, the Villanueva family believes a grand mal seizure caused Samantha's untimely death, but they say they're still waiting for her autopsy to confirm.
"My sister was something else," said Villanueva. "She was awesome. She loved to draw. She loved to color, especially butterflies."
Butterflies often signify hope, and by carrying that hope, through Samantha's memory, Adam lifted his golf game to new heights.
"Well, she was always proud of me, and after I'd win tournaments she'd be like, 'Yeah! Way to go.' There's a lot of memories with my older sister. Great memories," he said.
They are memories that flutter but never fade.
"Every step of the way, I was motivated with my family, with everybody," added Villanueva. "My family that's here and up there."
They are memories that influence and inspire.
"Every shot I always thought, 'I have a reason to win, and I'm not going to let anything get in my way,'" Villanueva said.
Memories of Samantha – "She'd be hugging me for a long time [if she were here today]" – and butterflies.