WARSAW – Sometimes you can just tell when people are having a good time in sports.
Some of the great showmen in sports history are linked to memorable moments, great smiles, tremendous plays. Think of the backflipping Ozzie Smith, the infectious smile of Ken Griffey Jr., the class of Mia Hamm, the good will of Walter Payton.
While these senior two golfers from Warsaw Community High School may not be all-time legends like the aforementioned, it doesn’t take more than a couple minutes to like Elizabeth Meadows and Nikki LaLonde. In a game that leaves some in a club-throwing, venom-spewing, frustrated mess, the duo aren’t buying the hassle.
“I’m the only one that can control my game, so that is the only thing I worry about,” stated Meadows in serious tone but with a smile on her face. “When you play golf, the course changes, the weather changes, and there are times when I’m going to be frustrated. But I remember this is a game. It’s the space between my ears that matters. Nothing else comes together if I’m not focused.”
Added senior teammate Nikki LaLonde, “Golf is just different from day to day. One day, it’s my slice. Another day, I hook it. It’s always changing. But I know that’s part of the game. You have to keep working on it.”
The fun-loving pair have led Warsaw to success on the golf course, notably two Northern Lakes Conference crowns and two sectional titles as well as reaching state in 2011. But while smiles, jokes and bright eyes flew through fun memories on the golf course, the serious competitors rose up when asked about last season.
“It was really cool to be a sectional medalist last year,” began Meadows. “But, we lost to NorthWood during the season. It was the first time we lost in conference in my career. And the regional wasn’t our best day, either.”
“We were undefeated for so long,” chimed in LaLonde. “Yes, on the course you are by yourself. But it is still a team sport. To be able to contribute feels good, but no one likes to lose. But I will say, it was amazing to go to state my sophomore year!”
While NorthWood tripped up Warsaw by nine strokes in an undefeated regular season, Warsaw rallied to take the NLC tournament by eight strokes and split the conference honors. It was a bittersweet moment for both girls, but shows the will these two have when the chips are down. The Lady Tigers won the sectional a week later going away before bowing out of the regional.
And if you really want to draw a little fire from the belly of Meadows, ask her about playing Stonehenge versus some of the other local courses.
“This is definitely the hardest course to deal with, especially in duals,” stated Meadows. “Some of these teams play rinky-dink courses, then they come down here and complain because it’s so hard…”
Elbowing LaLonde, who could only giggle at the rinky-dink comment, LaLonde followed with, “Stonehenge really helps us play our best golf. This course has a little of everything – trees, water, heather, all sorts of obstacles. It’s a lot bigger than most of the courses around here. Maybe one of the hardest courses we play all year, including the state course.”
But that might be the most fire you can draw from these two. How about starting the golf season two weeks before school? One would think it would be awful. Not so much.
“It’s a jump start for everything, really,” LaLonde said. “Golf really does get me prepared for the school year. It’s like reality hits. Golf has become life for me.”
And Meadows echoed, “I play all summer anyway, so the season is just part of the summer for me. Yeah, I am a little jealous of my friends that are still at the pool or hanging out, but I love golf. I love to be with my team. This is a great way to get back into the swing of things.”