Girls golf: Chesterton’s Marissa Kroeger steps up and does the right thing
By Steve T. Gorches 648-3141 or firstname.lastname@example.org September 29, 2012 11:22PM
Updated: November 1, 2012 6:51AM
About 45 minutes after Chesterton’s Kelly Grassel drained a 1-foot putt for the final birdie in another state title run, she was officially named the girls golf Mental Attitude Award winner.
Winning back-to-back titles to go with a 3.98 grade point average, principal’s honor roll, student council and a member of your conference’s sportsmanship board will usually seal that award in a landslide.
But unofficially, the girls golfer with the best mental attitude for the tournament was Grassel’s senior teammate Marissa Kroeger.
Not even close.
On Friday, she carded a 77, but after signing her card, then looking at it and thinking about it, she knew the card was wrong with a two-shot mistake. The result was disqualification and the Trojans having to use their fifth golfer’s score instead.
“It was a mental lapse,” Kroeger said. “I stood there for a couple minutes, trying to convince myself it wasn’t wrong, but I knew it was. My first concern was that it could hurt the team, and I knew it would. But it would have been more of a disgrace if I didn’t report it.”
Kroeger was the only one who knew it was a mistake. A lesser person — most people — would have stayed quiet. Heck, I admit I wouldn’t have reported it. But Kroeger showed she isn’t a lesser person.
“I’d expect nothing less from her,” Chesterton athletic director Garry Nallenweg said. “She’s a great kid.”
It’s the first year IHSAA assistant commissioner Chris Kaufman has helped run the girls golf state finals, and he knows the protocol.
“In golf it’s expected, but kids don’t always do what’s expected,” he said.
Marissa’s mom, Lauren, broke into tears when asked about her daughter’s show of honesty.
“A mom and dad couldn’t be prouder of her,” she said. “Courage, grace, integrity — she showed them all. Good things will come from it.”
How about a concrete good thing coming from it? Not the Mental Attitude Award, which Grassel deserved. How about fellow golf coaches, school administrators and fans going to ihsaa.org and filling out an Exemplary Sportsmanship Report on behalf of Kroeger? The purpose of the report found through the “Sportsmanship” link on the “Membership Services” drop-down menu is to highlight extraordinary displays of sportsmanship during IHSAA competition.
I doubt anyone could find an example better than Kroeger’s integrity.
She really deserves credit for coming back on Saturday, shooting another 79, and smiling often during the round despite what happened the day before. She even joked about herself after coming off the final hole.
“I told the other girls, ‘Excuse me if I’m extremely OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) in the scoring tent this time,’ ” she told her parents.
Grassel had to give kudos to her teammate despite the spotlight being shined on her for her record-setting repeat as state champion.
“She did the right thing,” Grassel said. “She would have felt terrible if she didn’t. She’s been my best friend and she’s done a great job for all four years.”
Golf is a unique sport, a game of integrity. But not everyone has the guts to follow through honorably. Kroeger was beyond exemplary in doing the right thing.