In their golf program’s short history, Oak Park and River Forest golfers Mia Shapiro and Emma Youman have earned their spots in the record books. Last season, the seniors and co-captains helped the Huskies win their first regional championship in school history. This season, both Shapiro and Youman have the state tournament on their minds.
Names: Mia Shapiro and Emma Youman
Age/year in school: 17/Seniors
Hometown: Oak Park
How long have you played golf?
Shapiro: Four years.
Youman: I started when I was eight years old, but didn’t get competitive until the summer before my freshman year.
What do you love most about golf?
Shaprio: The constant challenge against you. I’m on a team with seven other girls but when it comes time for a match I’m only playing to beat my own score.
Youman: The complexity of the sport. I love challenging myself. Every shot requires focus and precision, which on a bad day can be discouraging. But when I have a good day, the rewarding feeling that comes along with that success makes the game entirely worth it.
What are your goals for the upcoming season? How will you achieve them?
Shapiro: To remain consistent and beat my scores from last year. My goals for the team are to win regionals, go to sectionals as a team, and have someone go to state.
Youman: To make it to state at the end of the season. This will require lots of practice both physically and mentally. Golf is a mental game, and what I really need to focus on this season is getting in the zone and keeping control out on the course.
How do you motivate yourself to train during the summer?
Shapiro: By knowing in my mind what will come of my hard work. Golf is an extremely mental sport and you have to want it more than anyone else wants it.
Youman: I remind myself of my goal to qualify for state and just how rewarding the game can be when everything falls into place.
Who has inspired you most in your athletic endeavors?
Shapiro: My dad. He got me started in golf and he’s been there for me every step of the way. He was my first coach and first role model. He never gave up on me and he never will. I wouldn’t be where I am today in my golf career if it wasn’t for him. I can never thank him enough for the amount of time and money he has put in for me. No matter what my score is, as long as I’m giving it my all, he’ll always be proud of me.
Youman: My dad. He has always loved the game, and over the years taught me to love it too. My dad really pushed me to get out and play as much as I could this summer, and while he’s the first to give me corrections and point out what I need to improve on, he’s also my number one fan.
If you didn’t play golf, what would you be doing?
Shapiro: I might be doing poetry. I did spoken word for a year but it was too time consuming with golf, and I decided that golf was more important to me.
Youman: Before I [golfed] competitively I was in the dance studio almost every day after school and sometimes on the weekends. If I hadn’t shifted to golf, I would have continued to pursue my dance education.
What’s the best part about summer in Oak Park and River Forest?
Shapiro: Besides getting to sleep in, the variety of things to do. For example, there are a ton of good golf courses around Oak Park.
Youman: Having the leisure time I don’t have during the school year to hang out with friends and family and focus my energy on things outside of my academics, such as golf. I love grabbing a couple friends and going out just before sunset to play a few holes.
Who is your favorite athlete and why?
Shapiro: Rickie Fowler [American professional golfer] because of his unique style. He dresses differently than other golfers, and although many people judge him for it he doesn’t care. He marches to his own beat and I love that about him.
Youman: Lexi Thompson [American professional golfer] because she is so close in age to me and is so relatable. Her dedication and perseverance is really inspiring. I met her at the Women’s U.S. Open at Blackwolf Run last summer and she took a moment to talk with my sisters and I. She is so down to earth and positive about the game, it definitely motivates me to get out there and appreciate the game at the level she does.
How do you beat the heat during workouts?
Shapiro: By listening to my iPod. When I have my headphones in at the driving range I get in a zone where no one distracts me and I can get a better sense for what I’m doing wrong, and how to fix it.
Youman: For the first couple weeks, all I can do is stay hydrated and listen to my body. There is not really much shade to be found on a golf range or course, so if I get especially tired during practice, I’ll go and work on my chipping or putting which requires more concentration and touch than physical exertion.
Favorite quote or words to live by:
Shapiro: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha. In golf and life in general, it’s important to realize that you can’t change the past, so don’t worry about getting angry over it. You can’t predict the future either so just live in the moment and make the best of it.
Youman: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller. This quote really motivates me to find what I’m passionate about in life. There is this feeling I can’t really describe that comes from doing what I love, and it’s the search for that feeling that keeps me golfing after even the worst day.
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