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Aurora

Local star Gaugert will play D1 golf, track



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July 24, 2012 | 04:33 PM
Last week, during a visit to the Taylor Made golf factory in San Diego, the future became a reality for Annie Gaugert.

The recent Badger graduate and former golf star was getting fitted for custom golf clubs with her dad, Jim, and brother, Austin. She will need them in a month, when she joins her brother Austin at Valparaiso University (Indiana) to play Division 1 golf.

After ups and downs including an appendectomy in the fall and unsuccessful college visits, Annie signed with Valparaiso in the spring. The Valpo coach initially called Annie in the fall just after the high school golf season. But it wasn't until the San Diego trip that it all hit Annie like a ton of bricks.

"It all kind of set in last week," Annie said. "After getting fitted for clubs and realizing what they were for, I'm going to play college golf. Holy cow."

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Annie's decision is no shocker. With brothers Alex (Minnesota) and Austin (Valparaiso) currently playing Division 1 college golf, the Gaugerts are almost a "first family" of local golf. Jim is a PGA golf pro, and even Annie's mother Jeri hits the links with the gang.

Though the youngest, Annie's a veteran on the golf course and the track. She was a two-time honorable mention all-state golf selection at Badger. The Southern Lakes Conference Player of the Year as a junior, Annie earned all-Southern Lakes honors the last three seasons in golf and qualified for state in track as a senior (400 relay).

Annie also was a member of Badger basketball's 2012 Southern Lakes title, its first in 14 years.

Her family has always been her biggest supporter, and Annie can't wait to join Austin in college. The Regional News sat down with Annie at her home Friday to discuss her golf aspirations, family connection and time at Badger High School.

RN: What was the process of signing with Valparaiso?

AG: After my senior golf season, golf coach Mat Blair called me and started talking about my scores. He thought I'd be a good fit. He understood my surgery was a big reason I didn't advance to state as a senior. He knew my potential and understood my situation. I signed my letter after spring break. I'm really good friends with brother Austin. I think it will work out good. I'm excited to be going there. Also, Valparaiso is very good academically. I never thought of going to school with my brother, but now it seems like a perfect fit.

RN: What other schools did you consider?

AG: I applied to St. Thomas, Minn., a D3 school close to my brother Alex. I had been talking to Carthage and other small D3 schools. I visited Carroll College. I put off talking about college until Blair called me. It's a stressful process to pick a college. I like to just go with the flow and not worry about anything. At one point, I was like, "Will someone pick a school for me?"

RN: How did you decide to play two collegiate sports?

AG: I went on an official visit to Valpo after I received my offer. The track and golf coaches are friends. We sat down and talked about my sports plan. Golf comes first. In Division 1, you can't get a scholarship in two different sports. I will be running and doing hurdles during the indoor season. Golf is in the spring and fall. If I want to do any track meets during golf season, I can. For a D1 college coach to give up a scholarship to have me on the team, that's pretty cool.

RN: Are you excited about going to school with Austin?

AG: Austin's gone there for three years. He's such a social butterfly, he'll bring home people from the basketball team. There's all these people I already know. I already know my teammates thanks to my brother and the visit. It's really cool knowing I have my brother to lean on.

RN: You had an appendectomy a couple days before the conference golf meet last October. Take me through the ordeal.

AG: It was a Sunday night. We went to the emergency room at midnight. We were sent back home because they didn't know what was wrong. The pain moved, and Monday I had surgery. I hadn't felt normal the entire golf season, but still was playing OK. I would sleep in the basement for hours. I was worried it would mess up my golf season. I knew I had a chance to make state, but I missed by two strokes. It was a learning experience.

RN: How was the recovery process?

AG: I went to school half days. My friend Max Gilbertson would carry my backpack around for me and drive me home from school. I couldn't drive or couldn't carry my backpack. I played the next Thursday at regionals. It was cold and rainy, so it was tough. But it was cool how many people are understanding of the situation. It was tough. I was leading in conference points heading into the conference meet. I went to conference and watched my teammates, and I was crying. It was cool to see Lana (Wieseman) get first team. We're the type of friends that will always be there for each other.

RN: What was it like growing up in a golf family?

AG: It's been cool to go from bickering in high school to us siblings supporting each other and all playing D1 golf. We grew up at Hillmoor. Dad was working there. Golf is a big part of why my family is so close. It's why we're such good friends and we're able to talk about anything. Mom will golf with us, too. I could call my brothers at any time, and they will always pick up or call me back. They'll always be there for me, whether it's school, boy problems, golf or anything. My family is my No. 1 fan. They'll support me in any decision I make, whether it's going to Valpo or sitting on the couch.

RN: How were your grades in high school? What will you study at Valpo?

AG: My GPA was somewhere around 3.7. My dad always says it's about having a good balance. I have school, sports and a social life. But I can't always have all three perfectly even. At Valpo, I want to be in elementary education, and I want to be a personal trainer. I've always loved helping kids grow, and it's nice to know you can be the start to their education.

RN: What will you remember most about Badger golf?

AG: I love (head coach) Phil Huff. That guy's the bomb. He is everyone's No. 1 fan out there. He is so excited about everything you do out there. He always encourages you to do better the next time. I had him as a teacher and coach. I've learned a lot from him. If it wasn't for Phil Huff, I don't think I'd be playing Division 1 golf. That encouragement goes a long way.

RN: How about Badger track?

AG: We made it to state in the 4x100 this year. I was close in the hurdles, but sometimes things just don't fall your way. It was cool for us to push through injuries with our track team, and to be able to win conference and regionals was really cool. Coach Jenn Jaeger and I have a special bond. She was my hurdles coach freshman year and gave me a lot of one-on-one time. When she left I was heartbroken. But she came back my junior and senior year. She's taught me a lot about life and track.

RN: What will you miss the most about Badger High School?

AG: I love my teammates so much. We are all in one town, and it's nice knowing those people will be there for you. My coaches were phenomenal. (Girls basketball coach) David Jooss knows every little thing about basketball. (Boys basketball coach) Darin Lottig was a big helper since middle school. When I went through tough times, he knew the right things to say.

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