Children get their chance in Show-Me State Games disc golf

Sunday, July 25, 2010 | 1:24 a.m. CDT; updated 3:10 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 25, 2010
Disc golf enthusiasts, Marck Schneider and Karalyn Lowen joined Karalyn’s son Jack Lowen, age 8, as he competed in his first disc golf tournament on Saturday in the Show-Me State Games at Albert-Oakland Park. “He could have chosen Game Boy or disc golf. Thankfully, he chose disc golf,” Schneider said.

COLUMBIA — Jake Hebenheimer's arms fly in the air and he lets out a celebratory scream.

His father, Jay Hebenheimer, is not amused. His 11-year-old son is skilled at disc golf and just made an amazing drive, but he's teaching him to be humble.

"You're just going to keep getting better," Jay Hebenheimer said to his son quietly under the shade of a tree, "so you can't start screaming every time you do well."

Jake rebuts by telling his dad he doesn't cheer for himself often, which is true. He instead congratulated his opponents at the Show-Me State Games after each basket and provided tips on how to improve their tosses.

"It was fun to have kids to play with instead of just adults," Jake Hebenheimer said, who completed a full course with 9-year-old Amber Goodin and 8-year-old Jack Lowen. Jake Hebenheimer has disc golfed competitively several times before, but normally versus people much older than him.

On Saturday at the Show-Me State Games, six children under age 12 competed, which was the largest group so far. Thirty-five people competed in event in total.

"Disc golf is hard for a beginner at first," said Jake Hebenheimer, who has played two or three full rounds of disc golf a week for the past year. He placed first among the five boys that competed on Saturday.

Two hours and 45 minutes had passed before the course was finished, and the afternoon temperature had risen along with the humidity. A group of seven encouraging spectators walked the whole course with the children. Each child came with their own support system, but the adults quickly learned names and cheered for all the competitors. Jack and Amber had never completed a full course competitively before Saturday.

"I'm glad I made it all the way through, I thought I'd never do it," Amber said, reflecting on points throughout the course when she felt like quitting. "I thought I was a loser, but no, I am a winner." She received a gold medal for her accomplishment of being the only female under age 12 to finish the round.

After the medals were awarded, Jack leaned on Mark Schneider's arm.

"Are you thinking about your round," Schneider asked.

Jack, sullen after not receiving a medal, nodded.

"Let's take three good things from this round, and then improve next time. We just have to develop a routine and stick to it," Schneider said.

Schneider got his partner Karalyn Lowen and her son Jack interested in the sport in 2007 and said that it was a great way for him to get to know Jack better.

"It's really a great family sport," Schenider said, who like other adults at the games acted as a personal coach.

Jake Hebenheimer admits that his dad is the biggest influence on his improvement in the game, and that his father acts as a coach in competitive situations. But, he said with a smile — "Sometimes I'm his coach, too."

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