Caitlin Pfaff stopped playing golf for Modesto Junior College to get a head start on her future career.
The 2015 Ceres High grad was recently hired as a custodial-deputy intern by the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department.
"It was a tough decision," Pfaff said. "I'm really going to miss not being around my teammates. But it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
"It's quite an accomplishment," said Randy Cerny, Pfaff's teacher and coach at Ceres High. "I'm really proud of her. She could have continued to play golf at Modesto Junior College and earned a scholarship to a four-year school. She had two golden opportunities. I think she made the right decision."
Pfaff used Cerny as a reference when she applied for the internship.
"I wrote some letters on her behalf and talked with some people at the Sheriff's Department," Cerny said. "I gave them an honest answer. She's mentally tough. I think some of that was developed from playing golf. She's a good person. She knows how to succeed."
Cerny worked for the Sheriff's Department for 13 years.
"I didn't want to be in law enforcement until I took his class," Pfaff said. "He's been so motivational and helpful."
Pfaff's current schedule consists of working 20 hours a week at the Stanislaus County Men's Jail in downtown Modesto.
She also dedicates 20 hours a week to furthering her education at Modesto Junior College.
Pfaff played in two golf matches with Modesto Junior College during her sophomore year.
"I didn't do as great as I would have liked," she said. "I didn't put the effort in because I was super focused on the Sheriff's Department. Golf took a back seat."
Pfaff teamed up with Central Valley grad Janita Vongphoumy this fall.
Caiitlin and Janita were rivals for one season in high school.
"She's a really nice girl," Pfaff said. "She's still doing great in golf."
Pfaff finished in the top 10 in the 2015 Big-8 individual standings.
The Pirates placed second as a team.
Modesto Junior College took fourth at the California Community College Athletic Association Northern California Regional Championship. Pfaff shot 91 both days.
"I really enjoyed my freshman year," Caitlin said. "I played in all of the matches. I had a lot of fun."
Caitlin had a memorable four-year career at Ceres High.
She developed into the golf program's all-time greatest player.
Pfaff helped lead the Bulldogs to a 41-7 overall record, one Western Athletic Conference title and four Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berths.
"She was a supreme golfer," Cerny said. "She was a team leader from her freshman year on. She was very competitive but at the same time she was a team player."
Added Pfaff: "I met my goals."
Ceres High made history during Pfaff's senior year. The Bulldogs were undefeated in WAC play. Ceres High won all 12 of its dual matches. The Bulldogs placed first at the conference's mid-season and year-end events. Ceres High posted a team score of 513 on its way to a program-best runner-up finish at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Tournament. The Bulldogs finished 14th overall (534) while competing at Masters for the first time. Ceres High took third at the prestigious Merced Tournament.
Caitlin won the WAC Most Valuable Player award her junior and sophomore years.
She earned first-team all-conference honors twice.
Vongphoumy ended Pfaff's reign as the WAC's top performer.
"She made me want to be a better player," Caitlin said. "She pushed me."
Pfaff will transfer from Modesto Junior College next year.
She will also complete the Sheriff Department's Core and Post Academy programs in 2017.
"I found a career that's meant for me," Pfaff said. "I want to spend the rest of my life in law enforcement. I have so many great memories golfing. It's something I'll do on the weekends. I don't think I can live without it."
"The majority of the girls I coached have gone on to college," Cerny said. "It's special for me to see what she's doing. She's going to succeed at whatever she put her mind to."