Erika Schwalbe consistently posts the team's lowest scores
Sports | Jenny Hudalla
Schwalbe strikes a shot from the fairway of the Concordia Invite in September, where she finished tied for 10th. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Sports Information
Freshman Erika Schwalbe didn’t expect to begin her rookie golf season by leading the team in scoring. She didn’t expect to see her name in the MIAC’s top 25 list. And she certainly didn’t expect to be an anchor for the team through her consistent play.
Then again, few things have gone according to plan over the course of the women’s golf season. Blue-chip recruit Jill Larson suffered a wrist injury before the beginning of conference play, weakening the Royals’ lineup. To make matters worse, the performance of the team as a whole has not satisfied the hopes of head coach Trent Anderson.
“Our goal for the year was to have four out of the five golfers post scores in the 80s at every meet,” Anderson said. “Erika is the only golfer that has been able to do that.”
The Breezy Point, Minn. native came to Bethel after meeting Anderson and other members of the golf team and was attracted to its close-knit community. Schwalbe prepared for the season over the summer by increasing both her time spent on the course and her level of play. However, the transition from high school to college athletics was still significant.
“The girls here are serious about what they’re doing, and they really work at their game,” Schwalbe said. “Collegiate sports are definitely more intense.”
With this intensity comes greater commitment. Although the goal was to contend for fifth or sixth place in the MIAC championship on Oct. 6, the team’s current level of play has set it back considerably. To get back on track, the Royals plan to play the championship course in advance to become familiar with the holes, and the practices leading up to the tournament will focus on specific points of improvement.
Although Schwalbe has proved indispensable due to her reliable play, this experience has been particularly stretching for her. Because she was not the top golfer on her high school team, she felt considerably less pressure to perform.
“I have to work a lot harder to come in with good scores,” Schwalbe said. “I feel like I have to support our team, because I know Coach Anderson expects it of me.”
Despite her early success and her coach’s expectations, Schwalbe has set realistic and constructive goals for the MIAC championship and her golf career as a whole.
“I would like to stay consistent in my golf,” she said. “I want to come out with a positive attitude and know how to make my game better. My goal is not to be the best but to do my best.”