Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Q&A: Ellie Johnson

Golfer sets program record
Junior golfer Ellie Johnson achieved a program low for a round score of 69. Though that was impressive, she plans to continue working hard as she always has, and to get even lower of a score.

As a junior on the golf team, Ellie Johnson has been on her team towards the longer side, and has experienced a lot. She is an influential golfer and teammate, as someone who has been working hard to improve and seeing results. 

One of Johnson’s achievements is being a Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar in the 2021-2022 season. Though, the most recent standout accomplishment from Johnson has been setting a program record for the lowest round score in program history. She achieved a low score of 69 on the first day of the Illinois Wesleyan  Fall Invite Sept.


Q: How did you get started with golf?

A: It’s a bit of an interesting story actually. I’ve grown up around the game, my family and I would play family golf tournaments every year for a highly contested trophy that we share at the cabin that we all go to, so I was around golf in that area, but I never really took it seriously. Growing up, I was always into basketball, soccer, track, and stuff like that. Golf was so boring, I was a 10 year old, so I was like, it takes forever and it’s not exciting, blah, blah, blah, like I want to go play basketball or whatnot. But then my parents would always harp on me because they saw when I was younger that I had some talent. Then pretty much the summer of my eighth grade year I finally sat down and took some lessons with an instructor and was like okay, well, basketball and soccer didn’t work out as well as I was hoping to, so let’s try out this golfing thing. And from then on, it just kind of really exploded. I started to fall in love with it. I took lessons and kind of just jumped right in after that. I played all throughout high school and progressively got better each year. So I eventually decided that I wanted to go to college and you know, the rest is history. I’m so glad that I followed through with Whitewater, I love the team and the coach and obviously couldn’t ask for anything better.


Q: How have previous seasons gone in comparison to this one?

A: My freshman year at Whitewater I was so nervous, actually. What we do is we come to school a couple of weeks before qualifiers and we play golf and it’s just to determine team order. And so my freshman year you know, it was my first time in college and living on my own because I’ve always shared a room with my sister. So it’s like, the first time I’m out away from my family for a long time and I’m there two weeks early and on top of that it’s 90 degrees outside. I was in a small room hating life. So when I woke up on the first day of qualifiers I ate about half my breakfast, and about two minutes before I left for qualifying I was throwing up and feeling horrible. So that was not a great start to my college career. After that, I played the number five spot on the varsity team, which was obviously like a huge honor. It’s a very contested spot, especially on our team and it’s something that I was so so grateful for that I could do as a freshman who just kind of walked in out of nowhere. So that was something and then the more I played throughout freshman year, the more I realized, like, I want to be the best. It’s just something that I have in me, just kind of the way I was wired, like I love the competition. 


Q: So then how did sophomore year go and how did it get you to the program record?

A: Something switched in me over the summer after freshman year. I talked to my dad and we came up with a kind of plan over the summer on how to get better. I would hit three buckets of balls almost every day, I would have lessons like every two weeks, I would play at least like one to two times a week. All just so I could really nail my game and my style of play. So sophomore year came around, and I jumped from the five spot to the one spot, out of nowhere. Nobody on the team was expecting it, my coach wasn’t even expecting it either but she hid it well. I was a little in shock because you know, sophomore year you still feel kind of new, but I loved it. I thrived with the competition and I just kept going lower and lower with my score. At one tournament, I shot a 71, which at that point was the school record. It was one under par. From that point on I was like this is actually kind of easy. Then it popped into my head and I was like okay, well this is a legit goal that I can run for and one that you know, putting in the time and effort needed. It may you know suck a little bit but it’ll come eventually. And a couple of weekends ago, everything just clicked and it ended up happening for me. Although I still think I can go lower. The competitor in me wants an untouchable number.


Q: As you’re reaching the end of this season what are your goals?

A: Our first day we come in as a team and we talk about team goals. We’re very team centered. You know golf is an individual sport because you play by yourself, but in the end, it is still a team sport because we use everyone’s scores for that one team score. So, every year our goal is to win the conference championship, because if you win the conference tournament, you get what’s called an automatic bid to the national. That is something that is always at the forefront of my mind. But in terms of personal goals, I’ve talked with my parents about them too since I’m very close with them, which I’ m so grateful for. But shooting the 69 felt just so simple, like I really wasn’t working for it at that moment. It just felt like I was out playing golf and so it clicked in that moment that that’s not the bottom, that’s not the maximum that I can do. So kind of my goal for next year is obviously winning the conference for team 100%. But it would be nice to go out and win the conference as an individual as well. 


Q: What does it mean to you to be a Warhawk athlete?


A: Our school is really unique and special because for a D3 school we’re super large, but how we’re able to be prioritized a little bit as student athletes is so cool. It is tough sometimes because a lot of my friends aren’t athletes. A lot of them are just kind of regular students that join clubs and go to class and have fun and you know, I feel bad because I want to hang out with them, but a majority of my day I have to prioritize my sport and school. So it’s definitely a unique opportunity where we get to kind of test ourselves and thrive in this like, competitive environment, but also be a college student at the same time. But, especially at Whitewater, the student population is so supportive of athletics that it really feels like a big 10 School at some times. So I just love it. It makes me feel so happy that I’m able to kind of represent the university and kind of represent the ideals that we have. It always makes me smile a little bit when I throw on my uniform and it’s got Willie the Warhawk on it. Being a Warhawk is just definitely something that I will remember forever.

Like Johnson said, as a junior she still has one more year after this one. No one knows what the future holds, but with her attitude towards her sport, there’s a chance it could work out as she hopes. The next big tournament the Warhawks have will be the WIAC Championship Oct. 6-8 in Reedsburg.

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About the Contributor
Kaitlin Geisler
Kaitlin Geisler, Women's Sports Editor

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