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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

2009 Girls Golfer of the Year * Gina Mae Frericks, Remsen-Union

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gina Mae Frericks would probably never say it, but the recent Remsen-Union graduate might single-handedly be responsible for saving the Lady Rockets' girls golf program.

As a freshman in 2006, Frericks was one of just two girls to initially turn out for the team. She and her teammate managed to recruit two more players, giving them a four-person squad that season - just enough to compete as a team at varsity meets.

Fast-forward to 2009 and Frericks - now a four-time state qualifier - led her Lady Rockets squad to district and regional runner-up finishes and a team berth at the Class 1A girls state tournament.

"She did a great job of recruiting other girls to play," first-year R-U coach Steve Neuberger said. "Golf is starting to catch on more at our school and her success has a big hand in that."

R-U's sixth-place finish at state represented a stunning turnaround for a program that had just four participants four years earlier and that is one reason Frericks is the 2009 Daily Sentinel Girls Golfer of the Year.

"It was a great thing for our school because it was the first time our school has sent the whole girls team," Frericks said. "It was really nice to have all of them there. They were really supportive and I felt like it took some of the pressure off of me."

Frericks' fifth-place individual finish wrapped up a stellar high school career during which she never placed lower than 14th at the Class 1A state tournament. She finished 14th as a freshman, 12th as a sophomore and third as a junior.

"It was really surprising," she said. "I didn't expect out of myself, but after my freshman year, I just kept pushing myself to make it back all four years."

Frericks was a model of consistency during Western Valley Conference play this season as she earned medalist honors at each of the four North Division meets. Her scores? Three 42's and a 41. She also finished second at the Western Valley Conference tournament and was the overall medalist at the Hinton district and Newell regional meets.

So consistent was Frericks, that Neuberger took largely a hands-off approach.

"Her track record speaks for itself," Neuberger said. "Coming in and coaching her for one year, I didn't want to be the guy who messed it up."

Neuberger left that to Frericks' mother Kim, who served as a volunteer assistant girls coach for the past four seasons. Kim also served as the girls' "designated van driver" as the girls and boys usually compete at different locations during WVC play.

Kim Frericks, who golfed for Remsen St. Mary's, had Gina Mae and her older brother Justin - who placed fifth at the 2005 Class 1A boys tournament - golfing almost from the time they could walk.

"Basically our kids always had the plastic golf clubs in their hands," Kim Frericks said. "Our course in Remsen has a great summer program for the kids."

Gina Mae participated in the summer program at Remsen Golf Course - during which kids can participate in a four-hole or nine-hole program - through eighth grade. Kim said that program contributed to the success of the two freshman girls - Mary Jo Galles and Stacie Bortscheller - on this season's state-qualifying sextet.

Likely the toughest part for mom/coach Kim was staying in the clubhouse during the majority of Gina Mae's rounds.

"She doesn't like to be watched," Kim said. "She never liked her dad (Randy) and I to follow her around the course. We just watched her on the holes around the clubhouse and pretty much stayed away...You feel out when you're needed and when you're not."

Said Gina Mae: "She was just like a regular coach. She let us do our own thing and gave us advice when we needed it."

Like classmate and Daily Sentinel Boys Golfer of the Year Colin Sonnichsen, Frericks will attend the University of Iowa beginning this fall and is still deciding whether she will walk on the golf team.

But even Big-10 golf will not be the same as her memories of her four years on the Remsen-Union team.

"I'm going to miss it a lot," she said.

"I loved our talks on the way down to meets and the stories we could tell afterward. It's going to be weird not to be with them and have our girl talk or team talk."

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