Eager to compete
La PORTE — For Maddie Fleshman, her objective all season was to qualify for the regional.
Now that La Porte’s girls golfer achieved that feat, she’s aiming to excel in it. The Slicers senior will compete in the Lafayette Jefferson Regional at Battle Ground Golf Club at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“I’d like to beat my 96 I shot at The Brassie,” Fleshman said. “I was struggling with my short game at The Brassie, so that’s why I kind of want to beat it because I know my long game has been pretty well lately. So just honing in on the short game, making sure I’m making the putts I need to make. And I feel like I can shoot way better than a 96.
“Ending my high school career with a PR, that’d be pretty nice.”
Last year, Fleshman was a junior on a team of seven seniors. This campaign, she assumed the leadership role for the Slicers and thrived in that capacity with nine freshmen on the team.
“Her commitment to the game, her leadership on the course with the other girls impresses me most about Maddie,” La Porte coach Libbie Gilliland said. “She has no trouble stepping in, helping them out with their game, which tells me she’s confident in her own game.”
Fleshman is a four-year varsity letter-winner. She began the sport when she was roughly 10, due in large part to her father, Mark. She started golfing with the Junior PGA Tour at Briar Leaf Golf Course.
“He played golf for a really long time, so it was kind of something for us to bond over,” Maddie said. “Obviously, for a while, I was not as good as him, and I’m still not as good as him. But I’ve been able to start keeping up with him now. So it’s just kind of nice to have someone relatable, that you love, being able to teach you something that you’re starting to love as well.”
For a while, Fleshman wasn’t loving the sport and wasn’t sure if she wanted to play high school golf. She continued to work and practice hard to improve. Plus, she liked the mental break golf gives her, coming out on a calm, quiet course and playing the game she loves. That influenced her decision to keep playing.
“Because I was so much older and I’ve been playing golf a lot longer than the rest of them, I felt kind of like the leader this year,” Fleshman said. “I felt like I needed to help them. Obviously, I had to focus on myself if I were to get to this point of the season (advancing to the regional). But I felt very protective of them in the leadership role. So I got to be really close with all of them, which is nice.”
In the La Porte Sectional at Beechwood last Friday, Fleshman shot 101 to punch her ticket to the regional. She knew she might have to beat out a pretty good friend, South Central’s Chloe Ryan, to advance.
In the end, both Fleshman and Ryan made with Ryan shooting a 95.
“It’s awesome,” Gilliland said. “She knew coming in this year there would be a good chance she’d have to do it on her own, so she has worked towards it all season. And that has been her end goal, to get to the regional on her own, so to see her advance and do it is pretty awesome.”
Fleshman competed at Battle Ground in the regional the last two seasons. She tallied 99 a year ago, when the Slicers team posted a season-best score of 362, good enough for 10th place. Fleshman carded 95 two years ago.
“It’s really exciting for me,” she said. “I love my team, but I knew I’d probably have to do it by myself this year. It’s a big thing for me. This will be my third year as a varsity player at the regional.”
In addition to golf, Fleshman is an exceptional student. She has a 4.0 grade point average and is hoping to attend Purdue next year and double major in Construction Management as well as Spanish. She’s aiming to attend its Poly Tech School for the Construction Management Major.
“It’s very crucial,” Fleshman said on her academics pursuits. “I love sports, but academics are obviously going to get you a lot further in life, if you look at it. Realistically, I’m not going to make it anywhere for golf, but if I stay on my academics, I could go to big places.”
Fleshman still has goals to accomplish in life, but for golf, she checked one off heading into this weekend.
“I worked really hard this season,” she said. “I didn’t have the season I was hoping to, that I had last year, but it was enough to get me where I am, so I’m pleased with that.”