By Andy Warrener
The Laker/Lutz News Correspondent
Freedom sophomore golfer Terese Romeo has established herself as one of the top golfers in Hillsborough County, and it did not come quickly or easily.
The New Tampa resident wanted to be a competitive gymnast, taking to the activity at age 4 and competing by the fourth grade.
“I’ve always been kind of a daredevil,” Terese said. “I guess the gymnastics fed into that.”
Terese was a Level 8 gymnast at the peak of her career.
Then it happened.
“She was doing a back handspring on the beam and she caught her hand just wrong,” said Terese’s mother Vanessa Romeo. “That was the end of gymnastics for her.”
She ended up with a fractured growth plate and right wrist, while damaging the tendon sheath. The injury nearly destroyed her golf career before it started.
Terese started golfing at age 9 and competed in junior tournaments. The wrist injury never quite went away.
In fact, it progressed so far that she couldn’t continue to play with it anymore.
Terese decided to do something about the wrist after a disappointing freshman campaign where she missed regionals by one stroke.
She had her first surgery last Oct. 20, the day after districts. The operation addressed her issue with de Quervain’s tendonitis, a condition brought on by irritation of the wrist tendons at the base of the thumb. The inflammation causes the sheath around the tendon to swell and enlarge, making thumb and wrist movement painful.
The reconstructed sheath was supposed to let Terese play again, but she had another problem — a protruding piece of bone in her wrist.
She went in for a second surgery August 14 to file down the bone so it wouldn’t grind as she swung a club.
“I still wear a wrap around it when I play,” Terese said. “It gets sore when my wrists rub together or if the club grazes it.”
Having only one usable hand was not about to prevent Terese from supporting her team. She took the course with the Patriots, sometimes golfing with one hand just to register a score while hitting with the lower-tier players, who she mentored along the way.
“She’s a born team leader,” said Freedom coach Rich Simard. “She just loves the game and has worked with the other girls since her freshman year.”
Terese started golfing again with both hands just three weeks before winning the individual Class 2A-District 10 title Oct. 15 by carding a 75.
Her leadership never took a setback.
Even while recovering from surgery, she attended a leadership academy in New York, and also works with The First Tee of Tampa Bay and the Urban Junior Golf at the New Tampa YMCA. The programs teach golf and life lessons to underprivileged kids.
Terese is excited about how she can improve her game now that she is healthy.
“There’s no limit to how good you can get,” Terese said. “You can play golf for the rest of your life.”