Northern Kentucky University senior Rachel Brown has had enough.
With the spring women’s college golf season now over, the 2009 Genoa grad is telling her first love that it’s time for a change and she would like to move on to the next phase of her life.
Brown, the Norse’s No. 1 female golfer the past three years, graduated with a degree in exercise science from NKU last Saturday and has officially turned in her clubs. Kind of.
“I’m just gonna golf for fun now,” said Brown, 22. “I’m actually really happy about it. I’m excited to golf for fun. I can enter tournaments if I want to. Before, I couldn’t take a day off because I felt I was letting so many people down. Now, I know it’s OK. You don’t get somewhere by not working hard.”
The 5-foot-3 Brown was a four-time district qualifier at Genoa and was the Toledo Junior Golf Association female player of the year in 2008. She competed in the Jamie Farr Junior Pro-Am for several years, winning the event in 2008 at Highland Meadows.
Brown decided to continue playing golf at NKU, located about five miles south of Cincinnati in Highland Heights, Ky. Last month, during the school’s annual sports banquet, Brown received two prestigious awards.
She was one of four NKU student-athletes to receive the Career Service Award, which is chosen from among seniors in the cheerleading or student athletic training programs, as well as student employees in the athletic department who have provided integral service to the athletics department. The award is based upon academic excellence, service contribution, character and leadership.
Brown, who graduated with a 3.2 GPA, was co-president of the NKU Student Athlete Advisory Committee in 2012-13.
“I was pretty surprised,” she said of winning the award. “I thought that was really cool. It was definitely a huge honor, coming from the athletic department.”
NKU also gives out an annual “Mr. and Ms. Norse Award to two senior athletes who are the definition of a well rounded NKU student-athlete. The student-athletes not only have to excel on their playing field, but they also have to do well in the classroom and be active in the community.
“That one is voted on by the student-athletes, so that was pretty cool,” Brown said. “I had an idea (I was going to win it) because I had to collect nominations for it, being the co-president of the organization, but I didn’t know I had won. I was on stage announcing other winners, so I really didn’t know what to do. It usually goes to the athletes in the bigger sports, like soccer or softball.”
In addition to competing on the Norse golf team in the spring and fall, Brown also worked at a local golf course and for the university’s athletic department. She sold programs and tickets at various basketball, volleyball and soccer games, and she was also a personal group fitness trainer at the NKU athletic center.
“Rachel is without a doubt the hardest working player that has ever played for me in 17 years,” NKU coach Darryl Landrum said. “Rachel has a great vision of how shots are to be played around the green. Because of that, she has a fantastic short game. She has been a perfect role model. She eats the right foods off the course, which allows her to stay focused on the course, and she always has a great attitude. I can honestly say that she has done her best on every single shot of her four-year career. She was always under control on the course.”
Brown leaves the Norse’s golf program with a pretty impressive resume. She is sixth in career scoring average, fourth in rounds played, fourth in counting scores, and fifth in birdies. She was a two-time regional qualifier and competed in every NKU golf event over the last four years. She made the NKU All-Academic Team in 2013.
Brown credits her grandfather, Jim Schimming, for teaching her how to golf at age 7.
“I used to spend a lot of time with my grandparents,” she said. “My grandpa used to take me to my first golf lessons when Genoa used to have a driving range. He is the one who taught me everything about it and started me with lessons and would question things. My grandma (Dilly) used to take me to a lot of my summer tournaments.”
Brown started playing competitive golf in the LEJGA summer league when she was 9.
“At age 4, I used to hit plastic clubs in my grandparents’ backyard,” Brown said. “They said my swing was pretty natural. It had to be, because I couldn’t swing a baseball bat to save my life. My whole family (her father, Al, mother, Traci, and sister, Erica, 19) has been very supportive. They came to a lot of tournaments throughout my college and high school career.”
Brown said her four years at NKU have “gone very fast.”
“It’s been a really great experience,” she said. “The reason I came to college here was to play golf. It opened a lot of opportunities for me and I met a lot of people and have been a lot of places. It’s been a real growing and learning experience.”
Brown said she is currently on the job search and plans to attend the University of Cincinnati to get her masters degree in exercise and fitness.