During a meet against Perry at the Madison country club this fall, Kaci Kanicki found herself in some very unfamiliar territory. The kind of territory she never wanted to be in and probably thought she never would.
Over two months later she was able to smile about her round that day, but she still talked as if she couldn’t believe it.
“I shot a 59,” the Edgewood junior said. “I had never even been in the ‘50s before.”
If there was one thing Kanicki learned on the links this season, it would be that golf can be a game of frustration as much as it is one of enjoyment.
Kanciki, for the second year in a row, was named the Ashtabula county girls golfer of the year.
She was once again solid throughout the season, lead the Warriors with an average round of just under 48 for nine-hole matches and 94 for 18-hole matches. She battled through a few rough spots this season but finished strong by shooting her best 18-hole round of the season, a 90 at Punderson Country Club during the sectional tournament. She finished one stroke shy of advancing to the district tournament.
Kanicki learned how to handle the shots that were not so great over the course of the season.
“Just realizing that getting upset and getting frustrated only makes things worse,” she said. “I just tried to relax. Learn to salvage what you can and not let things get out of hand.”
A standout on the Edgewood basketball team, Kanicki picked up golf a few years ago. Once she learned the game, it did not take her long to become successful.
“She grew a lot very quickly her freshman year and from freshman to sophomore,” coach Christina Fischer said. “I think she expected that same kind of jump again. But when you’ve already gotten yourself down to a very good average after two and a half years of golf … I think she wanted to see that same gap and when she didn’t see that, she got frustrated.”
Kanicki didn’t allow frustrations to define her. Instead, she worked on her ability to manage the game and not allow one bad shot to catapult into several.
“There would be some times where I’d make a dumb decision; like I’d try to hit around a tree or something and it would just go sideways,” she said. “I found that taking the extra stroke would have been better because you end up in a better position.”
While the lessons were not always enjoyable, the mental growth and maturity is something Fischer believes will make her an even stronger player.
“I know her expectations for herself were very high,” Fischer said. “She wanted more for herself this season. But what I like about her is she doesn’t fall apart. Even though she had certain goals this year and even though she had some frustrating rounds, she would bounce back and she would perform very well. I liked her mental toughness this year.”
The team, not just Kanicki, benefited from her growth as a player.
“I call her kind of a quiet leader,” Fischer said. “She leads by example. She is very dedicated to practice. Her practice mindset is very good. She’s generally one of the first to arrive and she’s not in a hurry to get out.
“I see that as leadership and I think the younger girls see it as well. She’s a great example of what it takes to be successful at the game with her work ethic and her mental approach to the game.”
The sectional meet was her third trip to Punderson, and it was her best round of the year.
“That meant a lot to me,” she said. “The 97 [at the Chagrin Valley Conference preseason meet] wasn’t great, but it was only pre-season so I wasn’t too concerned. Then I shot a 95 [at the CVC postseason meet], which I was not happy with because it was only a slight improvement. Shooting a 90 was a good way to end the season.”
On the van ride home, what meant a lot to her coach was hearing her already talking about next season.
“You can’t ask for anything better from an athlete who has had success but then is hungry for the following year and knows they have to put the work in to be successful,” Fischer said.”