Hoopeston Area High School 2020 graduate Alyssa Yaden recently committed to play golf next season at Danville Area Community College.
Yaden said she took up golf as a way to get closer to her grandfather.
“My grandpa, he has heart problems and I wanted to golf to get closer to him,” she said. “And it just happened to be that I really love it and that I want to stick with it for the rest of my life.”
Yaden, the daughter of Chad and Virginia Yaden, of Hoopeston, took up golf three years ago.
Asked what she enjoys most about golf, Yaden said she enjoyed everything about it.
“I just like everything about it,” she said. “It gets you exercise, you get to be outside and get a nice tan. Just having fun. A lot of fun.”
Yaden recalled one of her fondest memories took place when she was playing a hole and her head coach, Dylan Swank, was elsewhere on the course.
“I go and I hit and it starts going towards his head and I’m like ‘Fore!’ as loud as I can,” she said.
Swank moved before the ball could hit him, Yaden said, with the ball landing exactly where he was standing.
Asked to discuss the difference between playing on a traditionally team-oriented sport, like bowling, versus playing a more individualistic sport like golf, Yaden said golf is definitely more of a mental game.
“With bowling, you’re there to cheer each other on,” she said. “With golf, you’re normally alone and it’s more of a mental game for yourself than it is a team sport.”
Yaden said this element of the game can be challenging, but she enjoys it nonetheless.
Yaden also seeks to improve her score each time she competes.
“I try to go down five every time and if I go past that I’m very ecstatic,” she said.
Yaden said she hopes to get her average into the 80’s for 18 holes.
Yaden said she will miss working with her coaches, Swank and Asst. Coach Tom Sage and playing for Hoopeston Area.
“I’m definitely going to miss my coaches,” she said. “And I’m going to miss golfing for my school.”
Sage, who was present for the signing May 30 at Hubbard Trail Country Club, expressed his pride in Yaden.
“I’m very proud of the time that Alyssa’s put in at HAHS,” he said. “I wish her much success.”
Sage said golf is a sport that is highly accessible to young people and he’s always encouraged his students to take up the game.
“They can get a lot of joy and experience out of it,” he said.
Sage feels that the individual nature of golf helps players develop patience and their problem-solving skills.
“Patience and problem-solving are the primary attributes that I think come out of facing yourself instead of strictly another team,” he said. “When you’re on the course, it’s not you versus someone else, it’s you versus you and, at the end of the day wherever the strokes lie then we add them up as a team. But in the end, you’re facing yourself, you are your own adversary. There’s no greater enemy than yourself.”
DACC Women’s Golf Team Coach Debbie Toler, who was also present at the signing, commented on Yaden’s commitment to play for DACC.
“We’re just glad to have Alyssa on the team,” she said. “We’re excited to have her on the team.”
Toler said this will be the first real season for the women’s golf team at DACC since the first season they had it they only had three team members.
She said Yaden will help make them a complete team this year.