TEMPERANCE -- Considering she's been a state qualifier for the Bedford girls' golf team in each of the past four seasons, it's hard to believe Heather Gonring wasn't a fan of the sport when she first teed it up during the summer before eighth grade.
"I didn't want to play at all," Gonring said. "But my older brother played and my parents really wanted me to play. I just didn't think it was that fun. I didn't like it at all, but now I love it."
It's easy to love a sport when you've been at the top for as long as Gonring has.
The senior captain for the Kicking Mules capped a stellar four-year run last weekend at the Michigan state tournament at Grand Valley State University. Gonring shot 94-96-190 on the par-73 Meadows course.
In her eight rounds at the state tournament since she was a freshman, Gonring has posted a 92.38 stroke average. Her best performance came as a junior when she shot 83-84-167.
"With her practice ethic, she's become a very good player," Bedford coach Mark Smith said. "She's been on varsity for us all four years and been a real solid player since the start."
As for what makes her the player she is, Smith said one quality stands out.
"She's fearless," he said. "A lot of kids are, but with the better kids, they're more fearless because they don't fear the result. What's great about Heather is she's so coachable."
Gonring credits Smith, a PGA teaching professional at Bedford Hills Golf Club and The Legacy Golf Club, with aiding in her development as a golfer.
"The only person I've ever really gotten lessons from is coach Smith. He's taught me a lot over the years," Gonring said. "He taught me how to keep my emotions under control [on the course]. My freshman year, I couldn't stay focused and I was very emotional, getting mad and upset. But he's helped me to calm down in that way."
Gonring hasn't decided where she'll go to college next year but is mulling an offer to continue her golf career at the University of Findlay.
"That's really the main school I'm looking at right now," Gonring said.
Although Bedford didn't advance to the state tournament as a team this year, snapping a streak of eight consecutive years for the Mules making it out of the regional tournament, that's not a reflection upon Gonring, according to her coach.
"She takes a lot of pride in the program," Smith said. "She's been a great leader, especially with a young team this year. I'm very proud of her."
Contact Zach Silka at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6084.