Girls golf: Carrie Nelson motivates New Trier teammates
The girls sectional golf tournament was held Tuesday at Cog Hill. New Trier's Callie Nelson during the tournament. | Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 21, 2012 6:11PM
WINNETKA — As a captain of the New Trier girls golf team, senior Callie Nelson has this season’s speech all prepared.
“Your round is not over until you sign your scorecard.”
In other words, she and her teammates may suffer some setbacks, but there’s always time to salvage a decent score.
Nelson clearly took her own advice on the final day of last fall’s IHSA Class AA state tournament, where she rebounded from a front-nine 44 to shoot a 36 on the back. Her score of 80 helped her finish 15 over for the tournament and tie for 11th in the state.
Nelson’s never-say-die attitude also extended to her college decision. Last spring, coaches at Santa Clara told the golfer they would not have a spot for her in their 2013 recruiting class.
Undeterred, Nelson decided to make a spring break visit to the school. When she arrived, something had changed, and Santa Clara coaches made Nelson an offer. She gave them her verbal commitment over the summer.
“I met with the coaches and they were really great and the school was really great, and they offered me a spot,” Nelson said. “It just goes to show that nothing is ever official until it’s official. Anyone who is playing college sports should always go for it, don’t fold. I almost folded, and now I’m going there.”
Nelson said she ultimately selected Santa Clara over Georgetown, Richmond and Bucknell. Of course, the California school has one major advantage over the others — the opportunity to play golf year-round. Additionally, Nelson will be close to two siblings who live on the West Coast.
But that’s a year down the road. In the present, Nelson is looking to guide the Trevians back to a state championship. New Trier won the crown in 2010, before finishing a close second to Prospect last season.
“I think winning state is always the goal,” Nelson said. “We have a lot of strong players and lot of potential. Everyone just needs to buckle down and start really practicing. I think it will be close again.”
Nelson said Prospect and Hinsdale Central once again appear to be the teams that will challenge New Trier for the top spot.
As for personal goals, Nelson said she doesn’t really think about them, choosing instead to focus on team success.
“You know, I don’t go for individual finishes,” she said. “It’s all about the team and not about me. When it comes to New Trier golf, it’s about the team and how WE perform.”
The mentality is different in the offseason, when Nelson competes in amateur tournaments.
This past summer included one extra-special performance, when she teed off at the Junior World Championships at the world-famous Torrey Pines, near San Diego.
“It was incredible,” she said. “I played against girls from Australia, Mexico and China. It was really a learning experience about how golf is a sport anyone can play and that people play it around the world. There is a lot of competition out there. If I want to pursue golf as a profession, I’ll really need to grind it out to try and get better. There are a lot of good players competing.”
Though Nelson still has some way to go before she’s competing at the highest level, she already has come pretty far. New Trier head coach Scott Fricke said she has improved steadily throughout her high school career.
“It just seems like all facets of her game have gotten really good,” the coach said. “Her short game is really good. She’s a kid who chips well and putts well. She is hitting a lot of fairways. When you shoot in the 70s, you have to be good at everything pretty much.
“She works really hard, not only during our season, but she plays a ton of golf during the summer. She plays a lot of tournaments and is ready to go once the season starts.”