MAHOMET — Brooklyn Hildreth’s primary investment in golf since entering Mahomet-Seymour High School has been her time.
“My dad’s friend (Jimmy Young) gave me the set of clubs I used all four years,” Hildreth said, “and another of his friends (Chad Pitcher) bought me the putter I’ve used all four years.”
Hildreth has progressed steadily, from a freshman duffer whose nine-hole average was 55.8 to a senior standout whose nine-hole average (43.8) was one of the best in the area.
After leading the Bulldogs to back-to-back state tournament appearances, this year’s M-S team leader is also this year’s area leader.
Hildreth narrowly earned Area Player of the Year honors over Monticello’s Evelyn Brand, who had a better nine-hole average but didn’t qualify for state.
When Hildreth, who turned 17 shortly before her senior season started, has gone clubbing at area courses, using men’s equipment wasn’t a deterrent.
“They are slightly heavier than women’s clubs, but I feel that works for me,” Hildreth said.
For years, Hildreth swung two types of clubs. There were the ones she used in golf and also the bats she wielded in softball.
“My dad (Rob) has always told me that my golf swing and my softball swing will get messed up if I play them both simultaneously,” Brooklyn Hildreth said. “The summer before my junior year, I decided not to play traveling softball.”
Without the softball conflicts, Hildreth had no reason to not play golf. So, she did.
“Over the summer I was at the course every single day,” she said. “Practicing every day makes all the difference in the world. This summer was the hardest I’ve ever worked at getting better. There was definitely a difference in my ability to play from my junior season to my senior season.
“Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it sure helps.”
With the focus on golf the past two summers, she dropped her nine-hole average from 49.9 as a sophomore to 47.2 as a junior and then by nearly 31/2 more strokes in her final prep season.
Four years ago, Brooklyn Hildreth wouldn’t have envisioned herself as the area’s premier high school golfer.
“The first time I ever played competitively was my freshman year,” she said. “At tryouts I remember it being so hot, and all the other girls made it look so easy. Compared to them I was an average player for a freshman and pretty much just starting my golf career.”
If her debut wasn’t impressive, then her finish was.
“Brooklyn steadily improved and really peaked this season,” M-S coach Matt Mills said. “She was the glue for the team this year.
“She was the teammate the girls looked to for anything, from advice on how to hit a sand shot to what they would do together on Friday night.
“Brooklyn regularly led team-bonding activities like going out to dinner or going shopping for matching socks the team could wear at a tournament.”
Teammates say Hildreth’s passion for golf and friendship was evident.
“Brooklyn is a beautiful person inside and out,” Lexus Hornsby said. “She always has a smile on her face. Brooklyn is an excellent team leader who will go far in life.
“She has helped us many times during practice with working on several techniques that have improved her golf game. She is a very dedicated golfer who has a love for the sport.”
During matches, Mills said Hildreth’s play didn’t affect her demeanor.
“Even if she has a bad round she was always there to encourage and support her teammates,” Mills said. “She has always been the type of person who makes the best out of any situation.
“Her positive attitude and outlook is contagious to anyone around her.
“Every season, when we discuss goals as a team, we talk about making the whole experience special on and off the course. Brooklyn has really taken that to heart and has done her best to make the experience special for her teammates. The girls’ golf program is undoubtedly better because of the contributions Brooklyn made to the team off the course.”
As a golfing novice, Hildreth said she didn’t originally have lofty goals.
“Honestly, I just played because the sport came easy to me and I had fun playing,” she said. “I never imagined that I would ever break 40 on nine holes, let alone two nights in a row. I never expected to be on a team that made it to state two years in a row.”
Hildreth also didn’t project herself as a future collegiate player, but she finds herself rethinking that choice now that coaches have contacted her.
“The only future I had in mind for golf was playing with my dad, or until I was about 80 years old,” she said. “Golfing in college would be an amazing experience. I am still open to the idea, but academics is the most important part for me.”
A key to her development as a golfer was the ability to put a bad shot or a poor hole aside and immediately move on.
“There is no reason to beat yourself up about a hole that was already over,” she said. “You can’t go back to fix it, so stop thinking about it.
“I would think about the last hole while walking to the next tee, but as soon as I put my bag on the ground I was thinking about the hole that was ahead of me.”
She could play, she said, free of outside pressures.
“My dad always told me that he and Mom would be proud of me no matter how I played,” Brooklyn Hildreth said. “I knew I didn’t have to impress anyone. I just had to try my best and bring in a good score for the team.”
Hildreth plans to major in occupational therapy and eventually “work with patients who are suffering from a traumatic brain injury.”
Mills said a professional career for Hildreth in a medical field would be appropriate.
“This would fit perfectly with her personality and her willingness to help people,” Mills said. “I have no doubt she will go on to improve the lives of countless people in many different ways.”
Golf will remain an integral part of Hildreth’s routine regardless of whether she plays for a collegiate team.
“In 10 years I see myself married and living in a warm place so my husband and I can play golf year-round,” Hildreth said. “I don’t plan on giving up the sport until I physically cannot pick up a club anymore.
“Golf is one of the only sports you can play no matter your age.”
Getting to know Brooklyn Hildreth
Why she’s Player of the Year: Top scorer for 1A regional champions and 1A sectional runners-up. Helped team tie for ninth at state, placing in a tie for 46th individually (177). Had area’s second-best nine-hole average (43.8) and the best among area athletes who qualified for state.
Season highlights: “Making it back to state a second year was incredible. Not only had I become incredibly close with this team but it was also a great way to finish off my high school career,” Hildreth said.
A few of my favorite things: Mashed potatoes and gravy ... Webb Simpson, he has strong morals and is a family man ... Current history ... “The Notebook“... “Pitch Perfect” ... Josh Turner ... Los Zarapes in Mahomet ... Nicholas Sparks books ... 2006 Dodge Stratus .. Babysitting ... Playing fetch with my dog, Niko ... Occupational therapist ... On my bucket list, to go on a mission trip, take a ride in a hot-air balloon and to go scuba diving.
About Hildreth: “As a team leader, Brooklyn encourages, uplifts and helps each of us girls. She would show us pointers and sight spots during practice rounds. I recently moved here from Texas and joining a new golf team is hard, but Brooklyn stepped in and welcomed me as if I was not new to the team.” — M-S golfer Lexus Hornsby
GIRLS’ GOLFERS OF THE YEAR
YEAR NAME SCHOOL
2012 Brooklyn Hildreth Mahomet-Seymour
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
GIRLS’ GOLF COACHES OF THE YEAR
2012 Matt Mills Mahomet-Seymour
2011 Guy Percy GCMS
ALL-AREA HONORABLE MENTION
NAME SCHOOL YR.
Maddie Birckbichler Mahomet-Seymour So.
Faith Borland Clinton Sr.
Evelyn Brand Monticello Jr.
Janice Choo Champaign Central Sr.
Kaza Combs Monticello Sr.
Annie Crumbaugh LeRoy So.
Sarah Daily Schlarman Jr.
Briana Davisson St. Thomas More Sr.
Madeline Diniz Monticello Jr.
Caroline Dodds St. Thomas More Jr.
Jackie Duffy Prairie Central Sr.
Taylor During St. Thomas More Jr.
Keegan Gagne Mahomet-Seymour Fr.
Drew Grimes Watseka Jr.
Natalie Gulliford Prairie Central Sr.
Jenna Hale Prairie Central Sr.
Annie Heinz Tuscola So.
Emily Heiser Prairie Central Sr.
Lexus Hornsby Mahomet-Seymour Jr.
Emalee Hortenstine Sullivan Jr.
Courtney LaFoe Salt Fork Jr.
Lindsey Luehrsen Iroquois West Jr.
Katelynn Martinez Centennial Sr.
Kailyn Morrell LeRoy Jr.
Kate Mueller Watseka Jr.
Sydney Murray Tuscola Sr.
Taylor Reifstack Tuscola So.
Katie Spangler GCMS Sr.
Katie Starkey Shiloh Sr.
Amber Tabaka Mahomet-Seymour Sr.
Camaryn Todd Salt Fork Fr.
Emily Trolia Mahomet-Seymour So.
Megan Tsevelekos Blue Ridge So.
Samatha Wilken Milford Sr.
Jessie Wohlwend LeRoy So.