The Alexandria girls golf team featured four seniors this spring from a program that was eager to try to get back to the state meet for a 21st time in team history.
Ciara O’Connor was the most experienced of those four in the varsity lineup. She was a junior in last year’s lineup who was expected to help lead the Cardinals back into contention in the Central Lakes Conference and Section 8AAA fields. Camryn Marshall, Megan Rydberg and Jaiden Drewes were also seniors for the program.
The Echo Press reached out to each of them as a way to recognize them after their careers were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic ending the spring high school season.
For those who responded, this story is an opportunity for them to share their thoughts centered around four questions: Why do they compete in golf? What do they miss most about it this spring? What is a favorite memory from competing? What are their future plans after high school, and do they plan on competing again?
(Editor’s note: Look for more stories like this highlighting seniors from area teams both online and within print issues of the Echo Press in the coming weeks.)
Why she plays: I started playing golf at a very young age because my dad is the Alexandria Golf Club superintendent. So naturally, I spent a lot of my time at the course, but golf definitely is not an easy sport to just pick up. It wasn't until I started competing in local summer tournaments and competing at a higher level that I really started to fall in love with the sport. That is when I found myself at the range and putting green almost every day, just trying to continue improving.
What she misses most: I definitely miss my teammates and coaches the most, especially the fun van rides to and from meets. It really breaks my heart to think that I will never be able to play on a team with those girls and of course my younger sister, (Aisling), ever again.
Favorite memory: It is so hard to choose just one, but one of my favorite memories would have to be my last van ride with the whole team. We had just tied sections and lost by the smallest margin as a team for the second year in a row, but the van ride was still so special. Don't get me wrong, we all cried, but we made the last van ride of the season fun and then went out to dinner together.
I'm really going to miss their positive attitudes next year. Another one of my favorite memories would be getting dressed up for the state tournament in the cities -- makeup, dress, hair, heels, crazy golf tans. It is so rewarding after a long, hard season grinding to get a spot there.
Future plans: I plan to continue my education and golf career at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. I hope to major in marketing and business administration.
Why she plays: I started playing golf because it was just the “normal” in my family. It’s how we spent our springs and summers. Why I kept playing golf is because of my team and the fun bus-ride memories we will never forget.
What she misses the most: Of course I miss my team the most.
Favorite memory: My favorite memory from my golfing years is when my team was heading back from a meet and we heard sounds coming from the side of the bus. The bus driver pulled over, and our coach got out to see the problem. Turns out the cubbies under the bus never got closed, and our push carts were falling out onto the road.
Future plans: I plan on golfing casually in my future, focusing my life more on achieving a bachelor's degree, but I will never stop golfing.