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Louters develops passion for golf
By Andrew Knot

Julienne LoutersRaised in a sports-loving household, Julienne Louters was sure to follow suit. Her father played basketball at Dordt College (Iowa), both of her parents coach basketball and track, and her sister played on the Calvin basketball team that went to the NCAA tournament for four straight years.

“[My family] has always been encouraging but never overbearing. Sports have been a great way to connect with my family,” said Louters.

With her parents working at Calvin (Larry, a chemistry professor, and Mary Jo, teacher education program staff), and her sister’s success on the basketball team Louters grew up knowing she wanted to play sports at Calvin, but she always pictured herself competing for the Knights on a court, not a course.

Knee problems, though, forced Louters from basketball her sophomore year of high school at Grand Rapids Christian High. At that point she decided to give the contact-free sport of golf a try.

Golf was largely a foreign sport to Louters at that time, but it was something she grew to love. “I love golf. It is a complete escape from everything else,” she said.

From the time she started playing golf, she enjoyed seeing her skills increase and her scores drop. “It’s fun to see huge improvements in my game,” added Louters, one of four seniors on the 2009 women’s golf team.

But golf isn’t the only passion in Louters’ life. She is a three-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll. Majoring in Spanish and biochemistry, the conflict between academics and athletics doesn’t bother Louters, but it definitely exists.

“I’m driven to want to do my best in academics or athletics. School and golf don’t define who I am, but they are a huge part of my life,” she said.

Her junior year, Louters chose to skip the golf season and spend a semester in Honduras.

“It was such a rewarding experience. In no way do I regret it, but I missed golf. It feels good to be back, like I didn’t skip a beat,” she said.

The golf team was certainly glad to have her back. She recorded a career-best 87, which helped Calvin to a victory at the Alma Invitational. In this her third year on the team, she averaged 98.5, an impressive 6.8 strokes off of her freshman-year average.

Of her improvement, Louters said, “I realized I wanted to make golf a really important aspect of my life. I wasn’t going to let any distractions keep me from focusing on my game.” She also acknowledged her coach, Jerry Bergsma, who coached her through some “mental gymnastics” and taught her to enjoy the game.

The improvement translated to the entire team as well; the 2009 edition of the women’s golf team averaged more than 35 strokes better than the 2008 team. Seniors Kelli Visser and Emily Tuuk, both teammates of Louters at Grand Rapids Christian High, along with senior Rachel Strikwerda and freshman Elise Doezema, completed the fall squad.

“Everyone brought a positive component to the team. We got along great, which was wonderful because we spent 30 hours a week together,” said Louters.