Athlete of the Year: Michelle Xie
Michelle Xie (‘15) led the first ever Paly girls’ golf team to states this year. She individually tied for 8th in the state. Aside from being on the school team, she also played in individual tournaments around the United States.
May 28, 2014
Unlike professionals in many sports, such as gymnastics, athletes usually peak in their twenties; however, the average age of professional golfers is early to mid-thirties and these athletes can continue to play the sport into their retirement.
“Golf is a sport you can play until you are old,” Michelle Xie (‘15) said. “[In] a lot of sports, by the time you are thirty, you are old, but golf is not that way. A lot of people say golf is an old person’s sport because it is kind of the only one that they can keep playing.”
Despite golf being an “old person’s sport,” Xie, co-captain of Paly’s girls’ golf team, is getting an early start. Xie began playing golf at age eight and has been with it ever since.
Xie reached new heights on Paly’s first ever girls’ golf team this year. Not only did she help her team win the Central Coast Section (CCS) title, but she also claimed the individual title.
“She is just a really good all around player,” girls’ golf coach Doyle Knight said. “That is why she won CCS.”
Xie is proud of her team’s success, especially after suffering a defeat to cross-town rival, Gunn, shortly before CCS took place.
“Winning CCS was really big for us,” Xie said. “Coming out of leagues, we lost by two strokes to Gunn. We were a little bit down in the dumps, but we kept it together.”
Paly girls’ golf qualified for NorCals with Xie’s help. Xie started off shaky, bogeying her first three holes, thus on track to get a 90. However, she turned her game around when she got a hole-in-one on the 144-yard fifth hole.
“When she is struggling, you can just see that she gets focused more…internally she evaluates what’s going on and she adjusts,” Knight said. She plays back to her strengths.”
Instead of shooting a 90, Xie shot an even-par 73 and was able to earn herself a medal. Her individual effort, along with the success of the team as a whole, qualified the girls for states. At states, Xie tied for eighth place.
While bringing girls’ golf to new levels for Paly, Xie also participated in individual tournaments on weekends throughout the season.
Although this did improve her playing, it also took away from her time on the Paly team.
“Last fall, I wasn’t able to play as many matches as I would have liked because I was traveling for colleges and other golf tournaments,” Xie said. “Being able to be a part of the team more often [is a goal of mine for next year].”
Another goal of hers, after having had a taste of states, is for the team to reach that level again.
“Knowing that now we have made it to states, [I believe] we can do it again,” Xie said.
Prior to this year, Xie played on Paly’s boys’ golf team because the girls’ team did not exist. Although it had its drawbacks, Xie believes that the team helped prepare her more for this year.
“[Playing with the boys] gave me an idea of the Paly team and working with Knight… that really helped me as a golfer,” Xie said.
One big change Xie encountered with the formation of the girls’ team was the different team dynamics.
“I didn’t really get to connect with the guys as well as with the girls because I was one of the only girls,” Xie said.
She has accomplished a great deal of achievements on a personal level and for her team, and she will continue to accomplish more throughout her golfing career—a career in which she sees no finish line.
“I really do hope to incorporate golf into the rest of my life,” Xie said.
In addition to growing and improving on the golf course, Xie has also grown as a leader.
“She has grown up and has taken more charge,” Knight said. “She has been more of a leader this year than in the past.”
Xie acknowledges the fact that she has been more of a leader this year, in part because of her experience out of Paly golf.
“I had a lot more experience than the other girls because I played in tournaments outside of school,” Xie said. “Sharing that with other girls and taking a leadership role was a little different.”
Looking toward the future, Xie hopes to play golf in college at the Division 1 (D1) level. Unsure of where, she is looking at schools outside of California.
“I am actually thinking about East Coast, still D1… getting away from California, that is really my chance to explore what the rest of the country is like,” Xie said. <<<
Anna Dukovic is a senior at Palo Alto High School and is new to the staff of the Viking Magazine. She plays Varsity volleyball, soccer, and track.