Some say golf is not a physical sport, but a mental one. For Lauren Chen, despite losing out on her senior year of golf due to the pandemic, her composure and uplifting spirit on the golf course since being on the varsity golf team in seventh grade won her the Positive Athlete Award for New York State.
Chen, who won the award in late July, was shocked, but soon realized her coach Brandon Cruz nominated her.
“She has been our leader,” Cruz, who made Chen a captain in ninth grade, said. “She has a tremendous amount of demeanor, whereas golf can be very frustrating at times and you wouldn’t know if she was having the best round of her life or the worst.”
Chen, runner-up for the Nassau County Championship in 2019, would have been one of the favorites to win if the season had occurred.
“It was very important for me to win the County championship this year,” Chen said. “I definitely had my eye on that and that’s one of the things I’m most upset about. I wish I just had one more chance to do it, but everything happens for a reason.”
While frustrated she could not play her sixth and final season of Manhasset golf, the people around her at Manhasset Secondary School helped her grow from a shy seventh grader to the one leading the charge as a junior.
“It was an amazing five years,” Chen said. “I’ve met so many amazing people on the Manhasset team, other teams in the athletic department. Everyone’s been very supportive and very welcoming.”
Chen credits her parents for helping her along the way and nurturing her golf mindset as being one of distinct composure.
“Have confidence throughout your round, but you can’t have too much confidence because or be too cocky because there’s always another hole so you never know what’s going to happen,” Chen said.
The award was the final piece of her Manhasset golf career, and the meaning of the award perfectly resembles her attitude when taking the course.
“[The award] was a great confidence booster and it was just nice to know, everything is not always about your game, your attitude’s very important and sometimes that’s more than being the best of the best,” Chen said.
Chen was planning to attend and play golf at Grinnell College in Iowa, but she decided to defer the fall semester and go in the spring. She quickly realized that remote learning was not something that benefited her once Manhasset was forced to switch in March. She did not want to have the same experience in her first semester at college.
“With academics I knew I was not the best learner online,” Chen said. “I need more of a one-on-one interaction with teachers and just more of a discussion-based class instead of all online teaching. For golf, I knew that they had limited spots of who can go to campus. I knew I wanted to be there definitely in the spring season. It was also a better choice for me to go in the spring as well since I would be guaranteed housing and allowed to be on campus for everything.”
The quarantine period did give Chen a newfound perspective and time to figure out what her future goals will be as she takes on her next challenge in life.
“I was able to spend more time with my family, get to know who I am without any distractions and just really hone in on what I want to do,” Chen said. “I realized you can’t take everything for granted now.”