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Brophy sets goal, achieves

Eric Retter | Thursday, September 30, 2004

An ambitious goal can spark good teams to cross the threshold into greatness.The Irish certainly got that spark heading into the Jeannine McHaney Invitational/Central Regional Preview last weekend. The night before the tournament began, junior co-captain Katie Brophy pulled the team aside. “I was thinking, ‘Why don’t we make a team goal where everyone [is] supposed to contribute? If someone [struggles], someone else [has] to step up,'” she said.The goal Brophy had in mind seemed both difficult and optimistic: 15 birdies for the team in each round. “Birdies really pump you up,” Brophy said. “Even if you’re having a horrible round, one birdie is really invigorating. I just thought [making that the team goal] was a good idea.”With that objective, Brophy ignited the team on the spur of the moment. The Irish were ready for the challenge, shooting 12 birdies Friday and 10 more on Sunday, no small achievement considering the rainy weather conditions, which forced tournament officials to cancel play Saturday. Overall, the team shot a 593, good enough to win the tournament by four strokes. Perhaps more than anyone else on the team, Brophy followed her own advice. On Friday, Brophy went out and fired a 69, putting herself in second place. On Sunday, she followed that impressive round with an even par 72, helping her team win the prestigious event and securing the individual title for herself. “It was a big step for Katie,” coach Debby King said. “The second round was a better round than the 69 mentally, because it’s easier to come from behind than keep a lead.”The goal certainly energized the team, perhaps providing them with a fun, new tradition. King has made a sign to take to tournaments, and, after each birdie, the team makes King do crunches.Without a doubt, Brophy was happy with her play, and the result it brought her.”Individually, it’s exciting to win a tournament,” she said.The victory was Brophy’s third individual title at Notre Dame, tying a school record that likely will be broken, considering that she is only starting her junior season. However, despite her accomplishments, Brophy has kept her play in perspective.”It’s important to not lose sight, aside from being captain, that you’re a member of a team,” she said. “It’s up to me to perform on the course and be a leader on the course, in the weight room and in life – to lead by example.”All in all, Brophy certainly satisfies her own definition of a leader. She has served as the captain on a majority of the teams she has played on, from club and high school golf and volleyball to her current role on the Irish. Brophy attributes this fact to being the oldest of four children and dealing with the responsibilities that often came with that. Without the help and inspiration of a few people along the way, Brophy may never have had much of a golf career. A high school friend, Lani Elston, who now plays for Arizona, sparked her interest in pursuing the next level.”She inspired me,” Brophy said of her friend.Brophy didn’t realize she had the ability to play at the Division I level until her sophomore year in high school, when her golf pro pulled her aside one day and asked her if she had ever thought about it. Ironically, Brophy didn’t even like golf until around that time. After her first high school tournament round, in which she shot a 107, Brophy was initially discouraged about the sport. However, once her skills began growing and she started developing her swing, her interest began to grow.”In my fourth or fifth high school tournament, I shot 90, and I was really excited,” she said.However, while she will talk about her individual past, when asked about the future, Brophy responds in plural.”The team isn’t going anywhere but up,” she said. “We haven’t reached our potential yet.”With Brophy setting the goals, the team may surpass even its own expectations.