Is there enough room in the night sky for another Xavier star student-athlete?
Of course there is – the brighter the better !!
Junior Mikayla Fitzpatrick had added her name to that crowded galaxy with a strong showing for the Gators in the Division I state tournament and, most recently, as the recipient of the Junior Golf Association of Arizona Girls Championship Player of the Year Award.
The award was presented on Sunday (Nov. 16) by PGA golfer Brandel Chamblee at a banquet at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix.
Fitzpatrick also received a golf bag with her name on it.
She earned the award by accumulating more points in her category (for scoring average) than any other golfer. She played in 17 JGAA events, mostly over the summer, of which 15 were used for the points rating.
“We played all over Phoenix and some across the state,’’ Fitzpatrick said, listing the Encanto, Wigwam, Dobson Ranch and Phoenix Country Club courses as some of the more notable sites.
The awards ceremony, she said, “was really fun. It was nice to be recognized by a well-known pro golfer.’’
|Junior Mikayla Fitzpatrick is all smiles after winning the Junior Golf Association of Arizona Player of the Year award as well as helping Xavier win the 2014 state championship in Division I, the school's 32nd.|
During the last year and into the Xavier season this fall, Fitzpatrick put an emphasis on course management, the best way to play certain holes, as well as getting stronger with her swing. She got a list of exercises to strengthen her core and worked mainly on her own in that aspect.
“It allowed me to do better, to be more consistent,’’ she said.
Fitzpatrick seldom has been slowed by injuries, but received a scare at this year’s state tournament, held at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen.
She shot a 77 in the opening round, due in part to a stiff and sore back that appeared out of nowhere. It affected her swing – “It was like a knot,’’ Fitzpatrick said -- but she toughed it out and finished. Xavier golf coach and athletic director Sr. Lynn Winsor said Fitzpatrick went directly from the course to a chiropractor after the first round.
Fitzpatrick came back the following day for a final-round 67, the lowest round of her career. It allowed her to finish in a tie for fourth place with teammate Emily Mahar and helping the Gators win the 32nd title in the history of the school while setting a team record for fewest strokes overall.
“There was no pain the second day,’’ Fitzpatrick said, still sounding relieved at the thought.
Said Winsor: “She came back and played some great golf. It was nice to see. I was proud of her, because something like that is a tough thing to do.’’
Fitzpatrick has taken a couple of weeks off after the tournament and soon will begin working out and then getting back on the course to make sure she doesn’t lose anything off her game.
There is another year to go before Fitzpatrick has to officially decide on a college, but she isn’t all that worried at the moment. She continues to concentrate on her academics (straight A’s).
She has talked to a few college coaches and has had informal visits at a couple of campuses.
“I want to leave my options open, do what’s best for me,’’ she said. “I originally had a goal of committing to a school by the end of my junior year, but I’m not going to do it just to do it. I don’t want to force myself.’’
Fitzpatrick started taking group golf lessons at age 8 and started playing in tournaments at around 12.
“I always wanted to come to Xavier and play for their team because of their great tradition,’’ she said.
She is nearing the middle of her junior year, and is looking forward to seeing what the second half brings, as well as her senior year.
“Going here and playing golf here has been great,’’ Fitzpatrick said. “The team is competitive, and getting into the top five (individuals) is a difficult thing to do. So you have to work hard. The girls (teammates and others) have accepted me and we’re good friends.’’
Fitzpatrick admits she does not have a lot of spare time. At Xavier, she also participates in diversity events such as retreats. She said at one event, at Chauncey Ranch in Mayer, she served as a counselor with 60-70 girls in attendance. She also is involved in dance – all types.
She displays all the attributes of a star student-athlete. Look up into the night sky and you just might see her.