CHAMPAIGN — At the start of her high school career, Sierra Myerscough's story was shaping up to be that of a prolific softball player. As a freshman, she was an honorable mention All-Sangamon Valley Conference pick and made the first team as a sophomore.
"I thought softball was gonna be in my future," Myerscough said. "I thought I was going to play in college."
Two weeks before the start of her sophomore year at St. Thomas More, a day on the driving range with her dad, Jerry Myerscough, changed all that.
It wasn't the first time Sierra Myerscough wielded a golf club. She played recreationally starting at the age of 8 but just didn't have the passion for the sport like she did for softball.
"I probably played like once a week in the summer," Myerscough said.
But something about that one time at the driving range with Dad renewed Myerscough's love for the sport. She gave up softball altogether after her sophomore year, and it's hard to argue with that decision based on what she's accomplished on the links — even though she might have had a future on the diamond.
As a senior this fall, Myerscough was a frequent medalist whose stroke average of 40.7 was among the best in the area. She won a regional championship, finished fourth at the sectional and third in Class 1A at the state finals. The one-time softball star is The News-Gazette's Area Girls' Golfer of the Year, edging Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley's Emily Spangler and LeRoy's Molly Marcum for the honor.
"I had a bigger passion for golf because I love just going out in the middle of the day, and I wasn't really enjoy softball that much," said Myerscough, who accepted an offer late last week to play collegiately at Northern Illinois. "I figured if golf was in my future I would have to drop the things I didn't want in my future. I had to make a decision, and I went with golf."
At the outset it didn't seem like the wisest of decisions. Myerscough didn't exactly light it up when she started competing for the Sabers, saying she shot a 138 her first time out. When she won the regional this fall, Myerscough fired a 73.
"In just a couple of years she has done some amazing things," STM coach Pat Hettermann said. "I saw it from the very first day. She's just a great athlete. I knew the kind of person she was. I had worked on her freshman year to come out and play, but she didn't. I'm really glad she came out her sophomore year because she's grown so much. It's not just in her game, going from the 130s to the 70s, which is just amazing, she's just matured so much mentally."
As amazing as what she's accomplished in a short time on the golf course, Myerscough's efforts off it are even more laudable. The 17-year-old is actively involved with an organization called Equality Now. Its mission is to end violence and discrimination against women around the world.
"I'm a big Meryl Streep fan and I was watching her Golden Globes speech, I think from 2006, for 'The Devil Wears Prada,' " Myerscough said. "She mentioned that she donated all the money from the clothes in the movie to Equality Now. I decided to look it up and immediately I was hooked and I started researching to see what I could do to help the organization. My birthday was coming up so I decided to donate all my money to Equality Now instead of getting gifts."
Recently, Myerscough said she helped raise $1,100 for the group through a drive on social media sites such as Facebook.
"Sierra is an old soul. She has a world view that isn't like her peers," former STM Principal Tim Millage said. "She sees larger issues, and they become personal concerns of hers. That sets her apart."
Her efforts now will serve Myerscough well in the future. After playing college golf for the Huskies and earning her bachelor's degree, she plans to attend law school.
"In the future I want to be a politician and a women's rights leader," Myerscough said. "I'll probably move to (Washington) D.C. Politics, I find very interesting, and I love learning about it every single day in my classes."
"Sierra is a very determined person, and whatever she does it's gonna be done well. School, athletics, she just does everything 100 percent," Hettermann said. "I know she's going to do terrific things, and I'm going to make her sign an autograph before she graduates because I know she's gonna be famous."
Girls’ Golfers of the Year
For the third time in five years, a St. Thomas More athlete has earned Girls’ Golfer of the Year honors. The list:
YEAR NAME SCHOOL
2011 Sierra Myerscough St. Thomas More
2010 Lizzy Dombroski Centennial
2009 Lizzy Dombroski Centennial
2008 Katie Jean St. Thomas More
2007 Katie Jean St. Thomas More
2006 Jenna Dombroski Centennial
2005 Kim Bailey GCMS
2004 Kim Bailey GCMS
Get to know Sierra Myerscough
She’s Player of the Year because ... the senior’s 40.7 nine-hole stroke average tied for second best in the area and she won a half-dozen regular season events. In the postseason, Myerscough won the Class 1A regional with a 73 at Stone Creek, finished fourth at the Kankakee Sectional and shot a 155 to finish in third place at the IHSA finals.
Season highlight: “Placing third at the state finals and the road trips with my teammates.”
A few of my favorite things ... Chicken parmesan ... Rory McIlroy ... Lady Gaga ... Government ... Psychology ... “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” ... Sephora ... Portillo’s ... iPhone 4 ... Caspian Blue Volvo XC90 ... To see a female president get elected in the United States ... To take a yoga retreat to India ... To go to Africa.
What they’re saying: “In just a couple of years she has done some amazing things. I wish I could keep her for another year. She’s definitely going to play in college, and she hasn’t even begun to hit the top of her game.” — St. Thomas More coach Pat Hettermann
An alphabetical look at the Girls’ Golfer of the Year honorable mention list:
NAME SCHOOL YR.
Kelsey Baker Blue Ridge Sr.
Randal Bernthal Mahomet-Seymour Sr.
Kaiti Bowen Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Sr.
Evelyn Brand Monticello So.
Janice Choo Champaign Central Jr.
Anna Dean LeRoy Sr.
Caroline Dodds St. Thomas More So.
Jackie Duffy Prairie Central Jr.
Alanna Dukeman Arthur Sr.
Danielle Ellis Mahomet-Seymour Sr.
Alexis Freund St. Thomas More Sr.
Kelsey Gallivan St. Thomas More Sr.
Charlotte Goss Mahomet-Seymour Sr.
Drew Grimes Watseka So.
Megan Grimes Hoopeston Area Sr.
Natalie Gulliford Prairie Central Jr.
Emily Heiser Prairie Central Jr.
Brooklyn Hildreth Mahomet-Seymour Jr.
Courtney LaFoe Salt Fork So.
Lindsey Luehrsen Iroquois West So.
Molly Marcum LeRoy Sr.
Kate Mueller Watseka So.
Regan Romshek Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Sr.
Nicole Root Centennial Sr.
Emily Spangler Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Sr.
Katie Spangler Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Jr.
McKenzie Stipes St. Thomas More Sr.
Amber Tabaka Mahomet-Seymour Jr.
Emily Trolia Mahomet-Seymour Fr.
Amber Tsevelekos Blue Ridge Sr.
Kylee West Schlarman Sr.
Madison White Centennial Sr.
Jess Wohlwend LeRoy Fr.
Katie Woltkamp LeRoy Sr.
Mikayla Woodward Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Sr.
N-G Top 10
SCHOOL (PREVIOUS) COMMENT
1. St. Thomas More (1) Top four state scorers were seniors
2. GCMS (2) Four of top six regional scorers were seniors
3. Mahomet-Seymour (3) Three of top six state scorers were seniors
4. Centennial (4) Two seniors, one freshman qualified for sectionals
5. Prairie Central (6) Four juniors qualified for sectionals
6. LeRoy (5) Three of top four regional scorers were seniors
7. Champaign Central (8) One senior, one junior qualified for sectionals
8. Iroquois West (9) Sophomore lone sectional qualifier
9. Watseka (10) Sophomore lone sectional qualifier
10. Blue Ridge (7) One senior qualified for sectionals