FORT WAYNE – Nicole Nortons scores have been solid – shes averaged 42 strokes per nine-hole match this year – but sometimes numbers dont tell the whole story.
In Nortons case, shes shown through her mental toughness that shes an absolute winner.
As Concordias 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 areas best.
Its 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.
Weve all really improved this year, so Im proud of the team.
More impressive has been Nortons 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. Shes been going through treatments since right before Christmas. She just finished radiation, and shes on to reconstructive surgery, so its really been good.
Ive tried to separate that from my golf game. I try not to think about it while Im playing. But its definitely been hard, and its 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.
Ive seen growth from her out of this world, Calloway said. Shes grown up right underneath my eyes. Shes become a player and a golfer, just extraordinary. Shes mentally tough. She may make mistakes but she comes back and shows a lot of mental fortitude. I really dont 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 Greeners 78, and fourth best in the tournament.
A lot of times, she couldnt make it to my matches or meets, Norton said of her mother. She had to ride around because its 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 its 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 Ive always been pretty good with my short game.
Whatever happens, shes already proved herself a winner.