Jara’ Templet will never forget what her father said 3? years ago when she decided to join the golf team at St. Michael the Archangel.

“My dad said, ‘You’re going to make a fool of yourself,’ when I told him I was going to play golf,” Templet said with a smile. “Now look how things worked out.”

Templet has plenty of reasons to smile these days, thanks in large part to that leap of faith she made to golf.

Next month, the Florida Institute of Technology signee heads off to play college golf and to study aerospace engineering.

Tuesday she concluded her junior golf career with a victory at the University Junior Classic at the University Club, shooting rounds of 70 and 77.

The first call she made afterward was to her father, Dwayne. That call came a little more than two months after the father and daughter shared tears of joy after Templet closed out her prep career by winning the Division I-Classes 5A-4A state high-school title.

Not bad for a girl who was dedicated to cheerleading for eight years, including most of her freshman year.

Fate intervened in the form of calcium deposits in Templet’s ankles. She was told she had three choices.

The first was to fight through the immense pain tumbling and other basic cheerleading moves caused.

Surgery was a second option. But the procedure would have sidelined Templet for as much as 18 months.

Switching to a new activity — like golf — was the third option Templet embraced with a passion few probably understood at the time.

As a child, Templet hit golf balls alongside her father on the driving range, but was never seriously competitive. That changed in a hurry.

“My first year I shot a 120 at Metro tournament,” Templet said. “I was determined to get better, so I kept working at it.

“When I was a sophomore, I shot an 82 at Metro. I’ve done everything I can to improve.”

Many teens would have packed up their clubs in a closet and moved on to something else after a freshman season like Templet had. Instead, she improved by 38 strokes from one year to the next.

Along with putting in time on any number of golf courses, Templet also sought the help of elite instructor Rob Noel of Money Hill Golf & Country Club in Abita Springs.

The list of golfers tutored by Noel includes two former University High standouts, current LSU player Tessa Teachman and Augusta State’s Patrick Reed.

“I went to Rob Noel for the first time about six months after I started playing golf,” Templet said. “He took my swing and totally rebuilt it. I learned a lot about golf, too.”

Templet took Noel’s expert advice and combined it with her own ingenuity over the past three years to become one of the area’s top girls golfers.

It is fair to say Templet’s story is not a typical one. But it is a reminder that success in sports is not a birthright or a form of entitlement.

Skeptics may question whether hard work pays off. Jara’ Templet is proof that it does.