June 5, 2014
As we head into the offseason, GopherSports.com will look ahead to the 2014-15 Gopher women's golf season with Q&A sessions with our three incoming freshmen - Heather Ciskowski, Sabrine Garrison and Celia Kuenster. We kick off the series with our first new student-athlete - Heather Ciskowski.
A native of Barrington, Ill., Heather Ciskowski will join the Gophers after a standout prep career on the course.
In one of her best showings last year, Ciskowski won the individual match play title at the Women's Western Golf Association 87th Junior Championship at Dubuque (Iowa) Golf Course & Country Club in August, winning her final matchup in a battle that went 20 holes.
A member of the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), Ciskowski is ranked 46th in the nation among 2014 prospects and finished 11th or better in each of the five AJGA tournaments she competed in during the 2013 season.
The Gophers' signee also won the 2013 Eagle Ridge Open on the Mid-American Junior Golf tour (MAJGT) with a 158 total over the two-day tournament and captured the 2013 Golfweek Junior Tour (15-19 division) crown at Elks Run Golf Club with a three-shot win, shooting a 77-75--152 at the tournament.
Ciskowski was also recognized on the AJGA 2013 Hewlett Packard Scholar Honor Roll, honoring the nation's brightest minds and best junior golfers.
GopherSports.com: What made you decide on playing collegiate golf at the University of Minnesota?
Heather Ciskowski: The University of Minnesota is a challenging school both academically and athletically. It has been my dream to be a Big Ten athlete. The campus overall with the city-scape background and Midwestern climate is exactly what I dreamed of in searching for the best school. Coach Redman and Coach Cleary are fantastic coaches and will definitely help my golf game reach its full potential and beyond. The women's golf team as well at the University of Minnesota is full of wonderful girls who strive to be the best people they can be both on the golf course and off. It was the perfect fit and I cannot wait to get started.
GS: Tell us a little about yourself outside of golf. What do you like to do when you aren't on the course?
HC: Outside of golf I am still a fierce competitor. I love to win, whether in the classroom, on the tennis courts, throwing a football, playing basketball, or swimming against my sisters in the pool or in out lake. Other than sports, I love to ride bikes, take hikes, and canoe. I also draw a lot and love to listen to music. I have also been playing the piano since I was very little.
GS: What are you looking forward to the most about college?
HC: Being on my own definitely and having to be responsible for myself as well. I cannot wait to be around fellow athletes who all have relatively similar goals and aspirations as I do. The overall atmosphere at Minnesota keeps pulling me in.
GS: Any idea what you plan on studying?
HC: I was accepted into the Carlson School of Business as a freshman and intend on focusing on accounting and marketing.
GS: When did you start playing golf?
HC: I started playing tennis, swimming, and golf at an early age. I focused on tennis and swimming for the most part until my sophomore year when I decided to switch from varsity tennis and play golf. I love and enjoy all sports, so it was very hard for me to choose one. Golf, by far, was my favorite. I love how it is a very individual sport and how much mental toughness is required in order to be successful at this game. Golf etiquette and responsibility has taught me lessons on and off the golf course that I will use for the rest of my life.
GS: What is your favorite club in your bag and why?
HC: My favorite club in my bag varies to how I am playing that certain day, but normally my favorite club(s) would have to be either the putter or my driver. Drive for show, putt for dough! I enjoy ripping it off the tee and being precise with the putter at the same time.
GS: What do you feel is the strongest aspect of your golf game?
HC: The strongest aspect of my golf game would have to be my dedication to improving, striving to be better, and willingness to work day in and day out to excel. I love chipping and putting and have been working hard on the short game aspect of my game, but every part of golf is difficult and needs careful attention.
GS: What is your favorite sports memory and why?
HC: My favorite overall sports memory regarding golf and all the other sports I have competed in would be just the people I have met and winning. Playing golf rounds with girls for five hours creates a bond; you get very close to people and get to know them very easily on the golf course. It is a very peaceful and friendly place. The people I have met and friends I have made through golf are some of my favorite memories. Winning, as well, is important. Winning a tournament, or winning by shooting your lowest round, or making the top 5 - it is all considered winning. When you put your heart and soul and dedicate as much time as we have (golfers) to playing and getting better, it starts to pay off. And when it does, and winning occurs, it is the greatest feeling in the world!
GS: Who is in your dream foursome?
HC: My dream foursome would have to be with David Feherty, Dustin Johnson, and Sir Nick Faldo. I know there would be a lot of laughs with this group, but I also admire Dustin's athleticism and Mr. Faldo's incredible golf accomplishments and knowledge of the game.
GS: What do you have planned between now and when you arrive on campus next fall?
Summer is always full of great opportunities to play and compete with USGA Qualifiers, AJGA Tournaments and many others. There are two that are my favorites: The Women's Western Amateur and the AJGA Coca-Cola in Boyne Highlands. The Western is my favorite because of its rich tradition and history. After winning the Women's Western Junior last year, I cannot wait to challenge myself at this higher level tournament. The AJGA tournament at Boyne Highlands, Michigan is also another favorite of mine. The tournament is played over the 4th of July and is very festive with flags, red, white and blue shirts, shoes, and even socks, hats, and bows. The last day, 4th of July, outfits are a key aspect of the tournament and the competition is always challenging and atmosphere fun. It is a perfect combination!
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