ARCANUM – Arcanum senior Haleigh Shaffer fulfilled a dream that she and her Grandpa shared when she committed to play college golf for Indiana University East on Wednesday afternoon.
Shaffer, the daughter of Kurt Shaffer and Heather Shaffer, said it was her Grandpa John Strader who got her interested in golf when she was young.
“This is what my Grandpa wanted, and he just recently passed away,” Shaffer said of her college commitment. “I’m excited that I get to do this for him, and I’m excited to see how far I can go.”
Following her commitment, Shaffer was given her Grandpa’s driver that he always used when they played against each other.
“He always beat me,” Shaffer said.
While she couldn’t beat her Grandpa, Shaffer is focused on becoming the best golfer at IU East.
“I want to be first on the team, but we’ll see,” she said. “I’m going to try.”
During her high school career Shaffer established herself as one of the area’s best golfers and won the Cross County Conference postseason tournament this past fall at Stillwater Valley Golf Club with an 18-hole round of 94.
IU East women’s golf coach Joe Griffin is confident that Shaffer’s game will transition well to the college level in part because of her ability to hit the ball a long way.
“The biggest thing, usually the difference between high school and college, is the distance,” Griffin said. “And if you have somebody that can hit the ball a long way that really makes that transition a lot easier. Talking to her one thing she really needs to work on is her short game, which is pretty typical. We can get some correction pretty quickly with that. So we can help her in those areas, but she’s a big hitter.”
At IU East Shaffer is joining a golf team that is on the rise. This past fall the Red Wolves won their first team tournament title in the program’s seven-year history.
Shaffer, who plans to study physical therapy in college, said she was impressed with the talent on IU East’s roster. She chose IU East because the Red Wolves will challenge her to become a better golfer, she said.
“They had the best team out of all the schools that I went to,” Shaffer said. “Their girls had the better scores and so I think that they’ll push me to do better.”
Griffin, who also is the IU East director of athletics, said the Red Wolves want to increase their recruitment of athletes from Ohio. Expanding their recruiting footprint will allow them to find more athletes like Shaffer who are passionate and will be great contributors to the program.
“The first thing I ask is do you really want to keep playing? Because I don’t care how good or bad, if you don’t want to play and really have a passion for it, you’re going to wane and just not be successful,” Griffin said. “Everybody is going to be frustrated. And she really wants to keep playing, and for that I see a lot of potential. With the other kids I have coming in there’s just a lot of potential there for us to do well fairly quickly because I have the right type of kids. It’s a great bunch of young ladies. I can’t ask for any better academically and socially and all of the other stuff. They’re just top of the line, and I think Haleigh is another one that is going to fit right in and just be a major part of having a great program.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.