MU golfer improving after narrowing focus

Sunday, November 4, 2007 | 11:28 p.m. CST; updated 1:51 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
MU sophomore Michelle Morgan was a multi-sport athlete for most of her childhood before deciding to concentrate on golf.

COLUMBIA — If you look over the Muncie (Ind.) Central High School record books, Michelle Morgan was involved in almost every sport. In golf, she was the team MVP all four years she played. In addition, she was an all-conference selection in soccer, basketball and softball. As a senior, she even spent time on the diving team.

When it came time to pick a college, Morgan decided golf gave her the best opportunity. After starting a few matches for Mizzou her freshman year, Morgan has become a permanent part of the Tigers’ lineup this fall as a sophomore and is one of the reasons for the Tigers’ success.

Growing up, Morgan’s focus centered on sports. She found it more comfortable to wear basketball shorts and T-shirts than anything else.

“I have always been a big fan of sports,” Morgan said. “When I was little, I was a big tomboy. I played football during recess instead of playing on the monkey bars.”

As an only child, sports were a way for Morgan to entertain herself. She never missed hanging out with the girls, because she never experienced it.

Golf was not always her prime focus. Morgan wanted to play basketball until high school.

“If you would have asked me in sixth grade what I wanted to be, I would have said a WNBA player,” Morgan said. “In high school, the coaching changed, and it kind of deterred me. Plus I never made it over 5-5.”

Although she did not accomplish her basketball dreams, the game still taught Morgan to be competitive.

She always found herself playing basketball against the older kids. When she was in second grade, she played with the fifth and sixth graders because there was no league for her age. By the time she was in middle school, she was playing against college aged kids at Ball State University.

“For some reason it was not very intimidating,” Morgan said. “I always thought of it as a challenge instead of the fact that I was playing against college kids.”

This competitive nature carried over into every other sport she played. At her high school, she is second in career goals in soccer. As a junior, she led the softball team in triples.

When she decided she no longer wanted to play basketball, Morgan didn’t just give herself some free time. Instead, she picked up diving, a sport that she had never tried before.

“I always thought diving was the coolest thing to watch during the Olympics,” Morgan said. “I decided that as a senior, it was my last chance to dive so I tried it. I didn’t qualify for anything, but I could hold my own.”

After seemingly trying every high school sport, Morgan chose golf. It was a sport she could practice on her own time, and that ultimately led to her decision.

When she was younger, Morgan played golf sporadically with her dad’s side of the family. It was not until the summer before entering high school that she started to play competitively.

“I consistently improved,” Morgan said. “It was part of my competitive nature. Golf is nothing that you can perfect. There is never anything that you can go out and say ‘I am perfect in this aspect of golf.’”

Now, Morgan finds herself at Mizzou because of another teammate, sophomore Julia Potter. Both golfers grew up in Indiana and joked about playing golf on the same team in college. During their all-state banquet, Potter announced her intent to attend Mizzou and the door was open.

“After she (Potter) announced where she was going, she and her dad called the coach (Stephanie Priesmeyer) and told her to look at this Michelle Morgan girl from Indiana. Next thing I know, the coach called me and I came out for a visit,” Morgan said.

Potter was surprised she and Morgan are attending the same university, because they were looking at different places before deciding on Mizzou. Potter was interested in Indiana University while Morgan was looking at Purdue University. Potter said she is glad to have such a competitive teammate.

“She puts all of her heart into whatever she does,” Potter said. “When you watch her on the course, she is very composed, but it’s her drive to play well that makes her so competitive.”

This season, Morgan has found herself to be an important part of a team that has continually improved. She has started in every tournament this fall and had her best finish in a collegiate tournament at the Johnie Imes Invitational where she finished in a tie for third.

Part of her improvement can be attributed to the work she put into her game this summer. An even bigger part has been focusing on one sport, something she could never do in high school.

“Last year my averages were not that wonderful,” Morgan said. “I feel like focusing solely on golf has helped me improve. There is no way I could shoot the scores on the courses I am playing now when I was in high school.”

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