FORT WAYNE – Nicole Norton’s scores have been solid – she’s averaged 42 strokes per nine-hole match this year – but sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story.
In Norton’s case, she’s shown through her mental toughness that she’s an absolute winner.
As Concordia’s No. 1 player, Norton is the leader of a team that has played most of the season with only four players because of injuries. Knowing that a score cannot be thrown out, the Cadets have had little room for error. That can be especially true for the No. 1 player, and Norton has held her own against the area’s best.
It’s definitely been a lot more stressful because of the injuries, Norton, a senior, said after Concordia placed second in the SAC tournament with a 365 on Saturday at McMillen Golf Course.
We’ve all really improved this year, so I’m proud of the team.
More impressive has been Norton’s ability to remain even keel on the course despite the dramas going on at home. Her mother, Dawn, who loves few things more than walking the course with Nicole during her tournaments, has been battling breast cancer.
We found out last November; she told the family right around Thanksgiving, Norton said. She’s been going through treatments since right before Christmas. She just finished radiation, and she’s on to reconstructive surgery, so it’s really been good.
I’ve tried to separate that from my golf game. I try not to think about it while I’m playing. But it’s definitely been hard, and it’s been hard to see her go through it.
Norton has had the support of her team and has forged a particularly strong relationship with her coach, Kyle Calloway.
I’ve seen growth from her out of this world, Calloway said. She’s grown up right underneath my eyes. She’s become a player and a golfer, just extraordinary. She’s mentally tough. She may make mistakes but she comes back and shows a lot of mental fortitude. I really don’t worry about her.
Norton is accustomed to having her mother at her tournaments, something that has been less frequent this year, though Dawn was there Saturday when Nicole posted a 16-over 81, second on her team to Melissa Greener’s 78, and fourth best in the tournament.
A lot of times, she couldn’t make it to my matches or meets, Norton said of her mother. She had to ride around because it’s harder for her to walk, so it means a lot to me when she can come out and watch.
On Saturday, Norton and the Cadets will be at the Angola Sectional, to be played at Zollner. That meet will have SAC tournament champion Bishop Dwenger and DeKalb, which took second at the NHC tournament, along with NECC tournament champion Angola.
Norton worked hard on her game during the offseason and it’s showed in her scores.
I really tried to work on my mental game. I knew that would be a big factor this year, she said. And I worked on my long game, since I’ve always been pretty good with my short game.
Whatever happens, she’s already proved herself a winner.