Sophomore Stephanie Quiroa has seen quite a bit of success on the golf course. As just a freshman, she made it to the Maryland State Competition. This year, however, she surpassed her previous season’s result with an impressive 13th place finish at States. The High Flier sat down with Stephanie to discuss how she came to love the sport, her recent success, her life off the course, and her goals of bringing a state championship banner for golf to Frederick High for the first time since 1973.
When did you start developing a passion for golf? Was there a specific moment in time or was it simply a gradual process?
When I was about 11, my little brother and my dad would go golfing all the time and I would just sit in the golf cart and read a book. I had zero interest in playing, but then one day I decided to try it out. Since then, it has been this gradual process of me wanting to get better and better.
When did you start realizing that you were quite talented at the sport (don’t be afraid to brag)?
To be honest, I never thought I was talented at golf. It was always my dad and my grandfather who encouraged me to believe in myself. If there was a moment in my life where I thought that I was good at it, it would have been when I won the Drive, Chip and Putt Competition when I was 13. I came in first overall, with a first place in driving and a second place in chipping, and that was a real confidence booster.
Coming into your freshman year of golf, what did you expect to accomplish? Anything from developing new friendships, growing as a player, or accolades based goals.
Coming into my freshman year I wanted to take my golfing to the next level of competition. I was also looking forward to the team aspect of it because when you are competing, it is just you you out there, so it was nice to have a team to share that experience with.
How did you train during the off season given your exemplary performance the year before? What types of things did you keep the same and what types of things did you change?
During the offseason, I went to the gym a lot. Even though some might not believe it, golf requires some physical condition. I worked on my core and that helped me this year to be able to hit the ball about 10-15 yards longer. I also changed the drive that I was using – the driver I was using before I had since the very beginning of time. It was a very old, off-brand drive, but it worked for me. I had even broken the grip during a tournament and my grandfather managed to cut it shorter and fix it up so I could keep using it.
Your rank at this year’s state competition is definitely a honor to be proud of. How do you think you grew from this year to the last, considering the noticeable difference in results?
First of all, thank you. And I think the main thing that shifted between last year and this year was not my swing, but it was my mentality. Last year I made it to the second day of States as a freshman and I was really nervous and I almost felt as if I didn’t belong because I was playing with 2 seniors and a junior. But this year, I made myself believe that I was meant to be there. I made myself believe that I was just as good as these other girls, and that led me to finally break 80, which is something I was really proud of.
Describe your relationships with your teammates and with your coach, Mr. Cleary. How have they shaped you as a golfer and as a person?
I love my team to pieces. My coach sees something in me that I have a hard time seeing in myself. He believes in me and always encourages me even if I have a bad day on the course. And as for my team, they help me loosen up a bit. Sometimes I get so stressed on doing good and be so nervous that it will mess with me, but my team is always there for me to make me laugh and definitely calm myself down a bit, and remind me that golf is supposed to be fun as well as competitive.
Now let’s talk outside of golf: what are some things you enjoy doing in your spare time? And hobbies?
I love writing. I write poems and stories and I hope to one day be able to stand in front of a crowd and share them. I also enjoy playing the piano as well as the saxophone. Music is an outlet for me, a way of expressing myself and I love how it can change your mood with just one note.
How about in school: what are your favorite subjects, what profession would you see yourself delving into after golf, etc?
I have wanted to be a marine biologist for quite some time now. I have a very big interest in sharks and call me crazy, but I would love to be one of those people who go underwater in a shark cage to observe them. It was only recently that I realized I could do something with my writing. It has always been something that I keep to myself, but I want to see what I can do with it. Maybe become a journalist or write a book. I don’t know yet.
I think that aside from the pride you give to the school, you definitely are also an inspiration to both athletes striving to accomplish similar goals and ambitious students alike. How would you say your image could be motivational to other students at Frederick High?
Thank you. And what I want athletes to learn from me is that you are not always going to win, and you are not always going to do great. On the course, sometimes I have a great day, sometimes I have a bad day, but it is important to know that tomorrow is another day and another chance to give it all you’ve got. But most importantly, I want anyone who looks up to me in any way to know that sports are supposed to be just as fun as they are competitive.
Finally, what is your big picture goal? Does it deal with chasing a scholarship, winning a state championship, or playing for the love of the game? Is something else gonna play a more prominent part of your future?
I am definitely chasing a scholarship, that is a big goal of mine. I do want to keep up playing not only for a scholarship, but also for the love of the game. I love going out there and giving it the best I’ve got because as they say, “A bad day on the course beats a good day at work”. As for States, the last time a Frederick High School student won states was in 1973. I would love to put a “States Golf” banner up in our brand new gym that says 2018, and I want to keep working to make this happen.