Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 28
BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
Ernest Righetti High School’s four-year varsity golf veteran, Melanie Johnson, practiced chipping balls from the sand onto the green at Rancho Maria Golf Course on a recent Friday after school.
Johnson hit golf balls with her father at the age of 7, so she’s been working on her game for about 10 years. Since her first time out in purple and gold, Johnson’s chipping game has made significant strides, and that work is what will give her the edge this year, said Righetti golf coach Brian Tomooka.
Tomooka expects her to help lead Righetti’s golfers to a league championship this year. This season, Johnson has already medaled at competitions against Cabrillo and Santa Ynez high schools, and helped her team begin a steady progression toward the goal of being undefeated.
He said what makes Johnson one of the most competitive athletes he’s ever coached is her composure.
“Golf’s a game where you have to have your emotions under control,” Tomooka said. “On the course, she keeps her demeanor pretty well, and that’s why she does well.”
She is even-keeled while she chips away at the sand pit, missing some and hitting others on point. Analyzing each swing and working out the kinks is one of the things she really enjoys about golf.
“Every day you come out, it’s a different challenge. You’re not going to hit the ball the same every time,” Johnson said. “It’s exciting when you do well—your swings working well—and when you don’t do well, it gives you something to work on that day—another part of your swing.”
Her love of swinging crosses the boundary from golf to softball, which is the other sport to which Johnson dedicates her out-of-school time. She’s just beginning her club softball season and will play varsity softball for Righetti in the spring. Along with sports, she maintains above a 4.0 GPA and pulls shifts on the high school’s Associated Student Body as the rally director.
She said time management is hard, but she likes to stay busy.
As far as where she will land after this year, that’s up in the air, but she knows she has to pick one sport. It will be softball because it’s not something you can play for the rest of your life, so she wants to enjoy it while she can. As for golf, she plans to pick that right back up after college is done.
“I’ve had to give that a lot of thought,” Johnson said.
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