Schulman has drive to succeed


Courtesy of Lexi Schulman

Lexi Schulman (9) holds her club in preparation to swing it

It wasn’t the regional competition she expected it to be. At the end of a sunny and unhurried fall day, the atmosphere at the Lake Forest golf course could not have been more tense. Tied up with Carmel Catholic’s Maria Stephens, Lexi Schulman (9) was forced to compete in a one-hole playoff against the experienced opponent in order to decide who would be crowned regional champion.

The talented freshman had outlasted the rest of the loaded field that was filled with upperclassmen, and only had one girl to beat as the day concluded. But suddenly, with all of the attention turning to the playoff she seemed to get nervous and rigid. After a fantastic day of golfing, Schulman fell short to a more seasoned opponent.

But she didn’t back down. A few weeks later Schulman placed fifth in the state in a crowded and talented field, and put on display the immense talent and drive that makes her so successful in this sport.
For Schulman, golf is everything. It is the one part of her life that motivates her more than anything else, and not a day goes by when she is not playing or practicing.

“The attribute that allows Lexi to be so successful as a freshman is how incredibly hard she works on her game,” girl’s golf coach Stephen Downey said.

Schulman comes from an athletic family. Both her dad and grandfather are extremely talented tennis players, with the former playing at the University of Iowa and the latter being one of the top over 60 tennis athletes in the nation.

But Schulman was never pushed to pursue tennis. In fact, her passion for golf began because her dad made her attend a lesson when she was seven. After the lesson, she went back again and again, and eventually she was hooked. From that point until now, she has been obsessed with the sport.

Schulman may only be 14, but the list of tournaments she’s played in and the accolades to her name is long. Very long.

Since 2015, Schulman has won a grand total of 17 tournaments on the national circuit, and in her first year of high school has only added more awards. She won 10 out of her 11 dual meets this season and set almost every VHHS record for golf that was in the books. A quick reminder: She’s only a freshman.

And being a freshman who has had a high level of success, it might seem like Schulman could struggle to fit in with her teammates, or to conduct herself in a mature manner. That isn’t the case for her, as she has impressed her coaches and teammates alike with her humility and coachability.

“I’ll admit, when I heard about having this extremely talented freshman on my team, I wondered how it was going to work out,” Downey said. “But there were no issues whatsoever.”

Molly King (12), a teammate of Lexi’s, personally attested to this and said that the team environment was improved— not torn apart— by the young phenom.

“We all thought she was super nice, and she got along with everyone,” King said.

However, when it gets down to it, Lexi is competitive first and cordial second.

Downey mentioned how incredible Schulman’s focus was, and how she always seemed tuned in to the competitions.

“She’s always even-keeled, regardless of the results. She never complains; she just plays,” Downey said.

King also talked about how impressive the freshman golfer was every time she stepped on the course, and how she always held her composure in even the biggest matches. To her teammates, it was apparent that golf spoke to her in a way that nothing else could match.

“She’s really focused and takes it seriously, but what’s even better is how obvious it is that she loves the game,” King said.

All of these skills that Schulman has accrued over the seven years she already played golf has paid off in high school.

Down in Decatur, Illinois, Schulman was able to place fifth in the state against a talented group of 110 other golfers. This makes her an all-state player, which is the first time that has happened in the history of VHHS girl’s golf.

With the mindset and attitude that Schulman exudes both on and off the course, the future seems bright for this 14-year-old freshman who has been golfing for half of her life. It simply consumes her.

“You can’t fake it in golf, and you’ve got to stay in the moment,” Schulman said. “If you mess up, it’s on you.”