Golf: Alexandria alum Lauren Stockmoe relishing the opportunity to be a local coach
After a strong college playing career at Bemidji State, Alexandria alum Lauren Stockmoe has returned to Alexandria to coach young student-athletes in the area.
ALEXANDRIA - Things have come full circle for Alexandria native Lauren Stockmoe.
She was a three-time All-Central Lakes Conference selection, a three-time state tournament participant in high school for the Alexandria Cardinals (Class of 2017) and went on to play college golf at Bemidji State
There she was an All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference second-team selection in her senior year of college (2020-21) and was a team captain.
And since March of 2022, she's been back in the community working as an assistant for the Alexandria High School girls golf team, an assistant coach for the Alexandria College womens and mens golf team, and serves as an assistant instructor and club fitter for the Scott Dirck Golf Academy.
"I never anticipated doing it. I thought that maybe I'd coach kids when I got older, but I had never anticipated it. Everything just fell into place," she said. "It's super cool to be back here in Alex, to be able to relate to when I was in high school and when I was in college and work with all these amazing students and supporting the community. I never thought I'd be doing this, but I'm so glad that I am."
Dirck reached out to Stockmoe about the coaching opportunity at the college and at the golf academy.
Stockmoe was at first surprised she got the call but jumped on it quickly.
"I thought he was joking when he mentioned it," Stockmoe said. "I was at a place where I just wasn't loving what I was doing, and he's like, 'I think you'd be great at coaching.' I definitely didn't think I had the knowledge that he had. And he was like, 'No, it takes some time. And you know enough about the game of golf to start coaching and teaching.' And now I love it. It's probably been the best decision I've ever made."
Shortly thereafter, Stockmoe started coaching for the Alexandria high school girls golf team with head coach Tim Zupfer and helped coach the team to their second-straight state title and fifth in program history.
"It's one of the coolest experiences I've had," she said. "I definitely would have rather have done it this way than go work at some other school somewhere else. I just feel such a level of accomplishment, and I'm so proud of the legacy that we're building."
In a twist of irony, she got to coach one of her high school teammates, Cora Larson, who was a 7th-grader on the high school team when Stockmoe was a senior.
"She is one of the most intelligent girls I know, one of the most skilled players, and to be able to watch from what she was my teammate to work towards to where she got was probably one of the coolest things," Stockmoe said.
Larson now plays college golf at North Dakota State.
Stockmoe listed Zupfer and Dirck as her inspirations in the coaching industry.
"Scott was my coach throughout high school and throughout college, and I definitely don't think I could do it without him and coach Zupfer. You see the legacy he's created and how long he's been doing it, it's just super inspiring," Stockmoe said.
The Alexandria College golf teams are currently either competing or preparing for the NJCAA National Championship.
Abby Hamman is currently competing at the NJCAA DII Nationals at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course in Garden City, Kansas, until Thursday.
"The tech school is really fun," Stockmoe said. "Those kids have worked hard to get there. It's really fun being at that next level. The high school level is also really fun. You get all sorts of levels of skill, but in college, you get that next level. And so they're really fun, a little bit closer to age to me, so I can relate to them a little bit more. I went through college, so I can relate that I'm on the school side of it."
Stockmoe's favorite part of coaching is seeing players' reactions to success.
"It's seeing how excited they get when they hit a good shot or have a good hole or a good round," Stockmoe said. "And then being able to show them what they can do and how great they can get with all the practice and teaching the right way to practice for sure is probably the best part of it."
With jumping into a new position always comes some challenges.
For Stockmoe, it's stepping back that's been the challenging part as a player turned coach.
"I've only ever been a player, so I'm trying to step back knowing they're not always going to play the same way I play, they're not going to make the same decisions I do, they don't hit the ball the same," Stockmoe said. "And then realizing that I just have to be positive and not overcomplicate things."
Being a former player now coaching at the high school level, Stockmoe has a unique and valuable perspective.
When asked what advice she would give to her high school self, she said, "Just enjoy the time. It doesn't last long, Don't put so much pressure on yourself."
"I definitely really had high expectations and high standards, which is good but also led to a lot of when I didn't exceed those or didn't meet those a lot of frustration and anger," she said. "It's important to enjoy every moment."
Stockmoe has also enjoyed networking with fellow coaches in the community.
"The community is awesome," Stockmoe said. "Everyone advocates for each other, and they support each other, and if you ever have questions, anyone's able to answer them, and we have a lot of seasoned coaches in the Alexandria area. To be able to come back and be able to work with them has been so fun. Everyone's just so supportive. They're always giving me time to chat and answer questions because I'm very new to it, and I never knew the coaching side of it and how much that goes into it."
While working with the girls high school and the college golf teams, Stockmoe is working to expand her knowledge of instruction with the game of golf.
She's working towards getting her PGA card and becoming a PGA professional, which is a process that can take 3-to-6 years to complete.
"Through that program, you take a lot of courses and do a lot of training, and I'm also trying to learn from my instructor (Scott Dirck)," she said. "I sit in on his lessons, and I learn from him. There's training I can do online, so I'm learning as much as I can, reading books, doing all of that, and taking what I know and trying to transfer it to whoever I'm working with."
Stockmoe has many big goals for herself in the coaching industry, including maintaining and growing the legacy of the Alexandria girls golf program.
"I definitely have big goals, and I would like to continue that legacy," she said. "Zupfer's not going to coach forever, so I want to continue the program's legacy. And with Scott, I want to continue building the golf academy. I also want to get more women and girls on the course."