November 1, 2014

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Just a sophomore, Shoregals’ Niki Schroeder likes Buckeyes for golf … and they like her

AVON LAKE — Niki Schroeder plays golf with a maturity that belies her young age. Is it any wonder she’s made her college choice before her sophomore year is even half over?

Schroeder

Schroeder, who owns just about every Avon Lake High School girls golf record and finished second in the Division I state tournament in October, orally committed Monday to play golf at Ohio State.

Though more and more offers were sure to come her way over the next few years, Schroeder saw no reason to wait.

“Ohio State was the place I knew I wanted to go for starters,” she said. “Everything was just positive (about the school).”

That includes the Ohio State academics (Schroeder plans to study physical therapy), the top-level golf (the Buckeyes have been to 18 straight regionals and won four of the last 10 Big Ten titles) and the coach, Therese Hession, who is in her 22nd year leading the Buckeyes.

Plus, Schroeder wanted to stay close to home and it didn’t hurt that one of her best friends, Medina Highland senior Jessica Porvasnik, this year’s Divison I state champ, will be a Buckeye next year.

“We’re real good friends,” Schroeder said. “That helped. She’s been trying to get me to go there. … Everything is just so positive. I couldn’t find a bad thing about it.”

Another not-so-bad thing is the $6.1 million indoor golf facility the school is building and that is expected to be open for business by the time Schroeder gets to campus.

That, plus trips to Florida, California and Hawaii that are on future OSU schedules, made it a lot easier to pick a school that can’t offer a year-round golfing climate.

Avon Lake golf coach Kevin Fitch wasn’t in the least bit surprised Schroeder got such a big-time offer so early or that she jumped on it.

“She’s such a hard worker,” he said. “And she’s always positive. Her mental toughness and mental attitude are so strong. She performed the best she can on the biggest stage (at the state tournament at OSU) … and she’s rewarded.”

Schroeder made her presence known as a freshman by winning the first high school tournament she competed in. More wins followed and she went on to become the first Avon Lake girl golfer to make state, finishing an impressive 10th.

This year, Schroeder, who was a national youth drag racing champion before taking up golf, set a school and tournament record with a 5-under 67 at the Turkeyfoot Invitational in Akron, won the Edison and North Olmsted Invitationals for the second straight year and was named the Southwestern Conference Player of the Year for the second time.

Schroeder’s 18-hole average was 73 and her 9-hole average was 36. At this year’s state tournament, she opened with a solid 75 before firing a 2-over 72 to finish second.

Schroeder’s success doesn’t surprise her, but she doesn’t take it for granted either.

“I thought it was going to be tough to improve on last season,” she said. “But I also knew if I believed in my game I could do anything I wanted to do.”

After playing a tournament the week after state, Schroeder took a week off. But she’s been back at it ever since as she tries to get her game in shape for a couple of prestigious junior tournaments in Florida, one at the end of this month and the other in January.

Besides practicing about an hour every day, she’s also working out some four times a week.

What she isn’t doing is worrying about where she’s going to go to college.

Contact Kevin Aprile at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.