Mike Barrett, LSSULakers.com
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — As the spring days are getting longer, the Lake Superior State women's golf team is making the most of their time on the fairways and greens of courses throughout Michigan.
The team is looking to continue the success they saw last spring when they finished in 8th place at the 2018 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships — their best finish in the conference tournament since 2015.
One of three freshmen on last year's squad, Taylor Simoneau performed remarkably well throughout the season, including leading the Lakers with a three-round score of 239 (83, 77, 79) at the GLIAC Championships, and demonstrated the leadership abilities that got her named a team captain by head coach Andrew McKenney.
"Taylor is in her first year as captain the for the women's team," said McKenney. "She was selected in the spring of last year, with the graduation of our previous co-captains — Taylor Trzasko and Sammie Baldwin. Taylor (Simoneau) brings a great personality and strong leadership to the women's team. As a young captain, she is growing into her role and will be a fantastic leadership presence for the team this year and for years to come."
On why she chose to attend Lake Superior State, Simoneau said, "The people I met really convinced me to come here. I spent a lot of my visit with different members of both teams. I got the vibe that the teams are like a family and I really enjoyed that feeling."
After feeling welcomed by the team on her visit, the St. Catherine's, Ontario native knew Lake State was the right fit for her.
Simoneau is majoring in kinesiology with a concentration in sports management. "I really enjoy sports and as a kid I played or at least tried a lot of sports, so I knew that I wanted to pursue something related to them," Simoneau said. "I felt that kinesiology was the best route to do that. There are also a lot of career options once I graduate — kinesiology is becoming a program that allows students to have a variety of different job opportunities and it opens a lot of doors."
"I have always been more on the participant side of sports rather than the organizational side," Simoneau added, "and this program showed me how much business is really involved in the sports industry. It has also given me a big picture view of all the different potential careers at different levels of sport around the world. I think it is very interesting to see all of the different career paths you can take with a kinesiology degree."
Although graduation is still a couple of years down the road, Simoneau has a pretty clear idea of what she would like to do with her degree.
"Once I graduate, I want to work for some form of sports organization, preferably golf, or I would like to coach. I feel like that is what I know best, and I would definitely like to stay in this sport because I feel like I can use my own experiences in those positions."
On the kinesiology program, Simoneau says she enjoys how interrelated the coursework is, as well as the closeness of the individuals in the program and the hands-on nature of the classes.
"There are so many opportunities in the classroom," said Simoneau. "So many classes allow hands-on activities during and outside of class time. Fitness testing, internship-style hours, etc., are always available for many classes."
In addition to her major, Simoneau is minoring in coaching and psychology. She acknowledged the connection between the two, stating that coaching draws much from psychology, just as it does from kinesiology.
"I am very interested in helping athletes once I finish my schooling at Lake State, and as a player myself I know how important psychology and a good mindset is for an athlete. This is very related to my major; I think they go hand in hand. I am also considering a coaching job, if possible, and I think having a background in kinesiology, sports management and coaching puts me in a very good position for the career that I want."
The native of southern Ontario picked up the game of golf at an early age. "I started golfing because my dad always played," she said. "He would always play in the morning on the weekends and the pro at the club he played at ran a camp every Sunday evening in the summer. I went one Sunday and never stopped playing."
Thinking back on some of the courses she has played on while a Laker, Simoneau spoke highly of the site of last year's GLIAC Championships, The Virtues in Nashport, Ohio. "It was so nice and green, well maintained and it set up well for my game," she remarked.
Another course that stood out in her mind was The Meadows, hosted by Grand Valley State in Allendale, Michigan, for the challenge it presented. "It is a tough course that played long, but extremely nice as well."
In the wintertime, Simoneau and the rest of the Lakers use the LSSU Golf Training Facility, an indoor facility that provides Lake Superior State's golfers with the same game improvement and game enhancement tools that touring professionals have at their disposal, to keep their game sharp throughout the winter. Simoneau also practices when she is home over winter break.
"We have hitting sessions in the off season and workouts as well, and when I go home on Christmas break, I continue with that," she said. "While on break, I hit balls pretty much every other day…I use this time to work on the mechanical aspects of my game like any swing issues and stuff."
Being a student-athlete, Simoneau has learned how to balance her school work with the travel commitments of her sport.
"I try to stay ahead on school work while we are at home so that when we do travel, I don't have to worry as much about homework," said Simoneau. "When I do have work to do, or tests coming up, I use time in the van and at night before bed to work. Our off day right after an event is really helpful; just a night to get caught up on everything. It is a challenge, but it is worth it to be a student-athlete at Lake Superior State."
Although she is only a sophomore, Simoneau has already built up a wealth of happy memories at Lake Superior State.
"There are too many memories to share," she said. "It is awesome every time we travel — no matter where we go — and it is the same when we are all home and together just hanging out."
Simoneau and the Laker women's golf team next competes at the 2019 GLIAC Women's Golf Championships at Gull Lake View Golf Club and Resort in Augusta, Michigan on April 19-21.
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