After four years of varsity golf, senior Brianna Zook surpassed her goals for the 2017 season by qualifying for the WIAA State Tournament in Madison.
Unlike the majority of competitors found at the state tournament, Zook came late to the game of golf. She started golfing her freshman year with no prior experience in the sport, but her innate athleticism quickly aided her in picking up the fundamentals of golf.
Mr. Dean Kugler, Zook’s coach, reminisced, “I think back to when she was a Freshman, and
had never played before, and how her natural athletic ability allowed her to pick up the sport so quickly. To think that four years later, she can be good enough to qualify for state, where most of the girls playing have spent their whole lives to achieve that level of play. She was blessed to have that athleticism, which, with a little bit of hard work, shows you can accomplish any goal.”
It is not athleticism in its own that led Zook to state. As any athlete or coach knows, raw talent has limitations that can only be broken with self-motivated dedication.
“As I said before, she was blessed with natural athleticism, but that alone is not the sole reason. She works at the golf course, which helps immerse her in the golf culture, she helped with the youth programs which gave her even more of an investment, and she competes for the softball team which helped her become a competitor,” shared Mr. Kugler. “No moments seemed too big for her, which, in golf, gets tested all the time. She consistently played with the best players in the area as the number one golfer, and held her own with them. A lot of players can’t handle that pressure.”
Zook accredits much of her growth to the assistance Mr. Kugler provided.
“He’s always there for me and pushes me to be the best. He always knows what I need to work on so he tells me to do those things at practice and it has helped me grow over the past four years,” shared Zook.
There is a mutual respect between Zook and her coach, a respect that is founded on positive examples and hard work.
“I think she has shown every player out there that it can be done. The funny thing is that she has so much improvement left in her game. I fully expect her to come back in her twenties and be an even better player than she is now. That goes for every person out there. If you put in the work, you will continue to get better, in any aspect of your life. She is an example of that for all of our students,” stated Mr. Kugler.
With her goals set on being first team all-conference and making it to sectionals, Zook was not expecting to advance on to State.
Zook said, “I really didn’t know what to think because I wasn’t expecting it when I was playing the 18th hole at sectionals. I was thinking to myself, “This is my last hole of high school.” Then after we waited for 30 minutes for the other scores to come in, I ended up qualifying. I was kind of in shock and didn’t believe it.”
After finishing at the state tournament in 54th place and shooting 97 and 91, Zook reflected on her experience, “ It was all around just a great experience and a bittersweet ending to my high school career of golf.”
Zook has made her mark on the Shawano High golf team and will be remembered for various qualities, but perhaps her most remarkable quality is her positive vibes.
“There are a lot of things that I will remember about her time here, but the thing I always think of with Breezy is her smile. I have never seen that girl not happy. I’m sure she has her moments, but she never brings it to golf,” said Mr. Kugler. “The only time I saw her unhappy, was that last day at state, when it hit her that her high school golf days were over. What a great high school athlete, I wish she was the norm, but maybe then we wouldn’t appreciate how special she was.”
“I think she impacted the entire team because she showed us that it’s possible for Shawano people to make it to State,” shared senior Brinley Kowalkowski who has golfed beside Zook all four years.
Some words of advice from Zook to younger golfers, “Practice a lot and enjoy it because honestly I feel like just yesterday I was trying out for golf my freshman year.”
“She did it, and too many never get to,” remarked Mr. Kugler on his four-year varsity golfer’s accomplishments.