University of North Carolina golfer Ryan Gerard '17 has earned honorable mention All-America honors from PING and the Golf Coaches Association of America.
Gerard's teammate Ryan Burnett was also recognized, marking the first time in 17 seasons that multiple Tar Heel men's golfers have earned All-America honors in the same season.
According to UNC's website, Burnett and Gerard rank first and second, respectively, in UNC career stroke averages at 71.45 and 71.82. They led Carolina to two team titles (Turning Stone Invitational in Verona, N.Y., and the General Hackler Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C.) and three other top-four performances and were on pace to shoot the lowest stroke averages in a season in school history when the season ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At that point, the Tar Heels were ranked No. 13 by Golfweek, 16 by the Golf Coaches and 17 by Golfstat — their fourth straight season finishing in the top 20.
Gerard averaged 71.08 in eight events, which propelled him to two fourth-place finishes among five times in the top seven, and shot a cumulative seven strokes below par for the season. He said he's gratified by the recognition, although he's disappointed to miss out on more opportunities to play.
"Being selected to an All-America team was always a goal of mine, but the fact that the season was shortened does leave a sour taste in my mouth because I knew how well my teammates and I were playing," he said. "I truly felt that we had a very good shot at doing something special in the postseason, and we are going to try and run it back next year and be even better."
His determination is a reflection of the "incredibly rewarding experience" he's had at UNC, both as a golfer and a student.
"The camaraderie among both my teammates and friends has been better than I could have thought possible, and the environment and classes have helped me shape me into a better person, leader and student," he said. "The golf team has had the same impact and more — allowing me to grow myself and my game to new heights and give me a potential future in something that I really enjoy doing."
Retired Ravenscroft teacher and varsity golf coach Jimmy Cox said Gerard's success at UNC "does not surprise me, as he is a hard worker and the most determined golfer I ever coached."
"Ryan had an outstanding career at Ravenscroft. He was a high school all-American and a super leader here," he added. "It is great to see him continuing to excel at the college level. I am sure even greater accomplishments are in his future."
Asked how his experiences at Ravenscroft helped prepare him for the challenges of a Division I university, Gerard expressed pride and appreciation for his time here.
"Ravenscroft allowed me a lot of opportunities and prepared me to succeed in college at UNC. I had a ton of experience in time management, from balancing coursework and extracurriculars throughout high school, that allowed me to show up and be ahead of the curve in college," Gerard said. "The teachers and people like Coach Cox, Mr. Bogue and Mr. Billerman were always incredibly supportive of my goals and outside tournaments, which allowed me to be recognized and go to a school like UNC. I am forever grateful for the support of the Ravenscroft School, its teachers and staff, and the experience that set me up for collegiate success."
This season's early end means Gerard, an Economics major who is wrapping up his junior year, is entitled to another year of player eligibility. "I intend to use it," he said.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back out on the course after a long layoff and competing with my teammates. We have a lot of really good tournaments and cool things planned, and I really can't wait."