Schoenfelder Reflects on Four-Year Golf Experience

Niall Schoenfelder may be known for wrestling success, but he’s hoping to also make an impact in his senior season with golf.

Cassidy Thomas

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Despite wrestling being a  popular sport in the Schoenfelder family, senior Niall Schoenfelder also finds his interests in other sports. While participating in wrestling in the winter and track in the spring, he also likes to play golf for the school in the fall season.

“Ever since I’ve started [playing golf] I’ve loved it,” Schoenfelder said. “Golf is fun because it’s a challenge for me to get better and better.”

Schoenfelder started playing golf on the team his freshman year of high school to try it out and since then he’s gone to the course every other day to improve his skills. He often plays with senior Gavin Eldridge, who is also on the varsity team.

“We work together by recommending tips to help improve our swing,” Schoenfelder said. “[The team] supports each other by keeping the mood light and not putting focus on any bad shots.”

Being an upperclassman, Schoenfelder often takes on a leadership role of the team. Despite golf being an individual sport, Schoenfelder works to make it a supportive environment as if it were a team sport.

“What makes him a good leader is that he forms relationships with everyone on the team and he sets a good example for what everyone else should do,” Eldridge said.

Despite the team environment, Schoenfelder and Eldridge both have competitive sides that come out on the course.

“Niall has pushed me to get better because we both compete with each other and neither of us wants to lose,” Eldridge said. “Niall keeps the energy of the team high and makes everyone laugh.”

Being a three-sport athlete can be a challenge for some people, but for Schoenfelder it’s the perfect pathway for college.

“Doing multiple sports allows me to work with muscles I wouldn’t typically use if I only did one sport,” Schoenfelder said. “I plan on wrestling in college, but I also enjoy golf and track and field.”

In addition to making him a well-rounded athlete, golf has also been a great way for Schoenfelder to meet and connect with new people. The new head coach, Michael Hickey, has had a big impact on how Schoenfelder plays and performs on the course.

“Mr. Hickey keeps the nerves from affecting me by making jokes and making it hard to remember my bad shots,” Schoenfelder said.

When Schoenfelder showed up freshman year to play, Hickey, then the assistant coach, knew he could be a valuable player.

“My first impression of Niall was the same as it is whenever I see someone who is new to the game, which is they will need a bunch of practice,” Hickey said. “Niall was different because it was evident that he was a good athlete, which makes improving so much easier. He understands how his body moves, which is key to being a consistent golfer.”

Hickey, being a multi-sport athlete in high school as well, spotted a well-rounded athlete when he saw one. He recognized that Niall was more than physically strong; he had other qualities to make him an impressive athlete.

“Niall is a good athlete because he is strong, flexible and can consistently make the same swing,” Hickey said. “I think Niall’s biggest strength is his mental toughness. He does not get too excited or too down while playing. This is a key component that many golfers lack.”

With all the skills he has acquired, Schoenfelder is already looking ahead to the season to see how he can accomplish applying them. This year means a lot to him because this will likely be the last time he plays golf competitively alongside his teammates.

“I feel like my role this year is to be a leader and help the team step up,” Schoenfelder said. “I feel that we can make a run at conference and regionals, but we’re all going to have to step up.”

Hickey recognizes this, too, and is ready to prepare the team for the season. With new players coming into high school this year, Schoenfelder is ready to guide the team to success.

“Niall is what I call the quiet leader,” Hickey said. “He leads by example and is very calm. This is exactly what we need with such a young team this year.”