Illiana Christian senior Lauren Drew is really excited about competing in today's Class AA Marian Catholic Regional at Coyote Run.
As the lone female golfer for Illiana Christian -- and the program's first female golfer since Angela Dehning in 2005 -- she played the season with the boys team, off the male tees, which are a longer distance from the hole.
"I am really looking forward because I have played with the boys teams all year," Drew said. "I think I will have an advantage because I am used to having to drive it farther. I think I will have to use more irons."
Drew spends a lot of time working on her game -- time she splits with her four horses. She raises and cares for Pepper, Smokey, Jazz and Bailey, after school going to her aunt's stables.
"I just love it and have been doing it since I was in fifth grade, going into the barn and mucking the stalls," Drew said. "I love horses and if I wanted to have horses, I had to do the chores. It is a great thing because it has taught me a lot about responsibility and commitment."
Drew said she and her sister Kristi do the chores and on days she has meets, her sister Kristi helps with the work. Lauren wants to major in psychology and minor in equine management.
She and Kristi have entered horses and won in various show events. They have driven Smokey in the Lake County Fair.
"I have just always loved animals -- particularly horses," Drew said. "I want to stay involved with horses."
She took up golf in May and played all summer to improve.
"I worked hard because I didn't want to embarrass myself on the course, being the only girl," Drew said. "Golf was my full-time job over the summer."
Drew said she shoots in the mid-40s off the male tees. Vikings coach Jack Rudenga said Drew has been a pleasant surprise and her swing is fundamentally sound.
"She has a great tempo with her swing. Lauren is very competitive and doesn't back down from a challenge," Rudenga said. "As she plays more she gets better. She is still learning the fine points of managing a course and getting more consistent in her short game. Lauren fits in well with her male teammates and is respected by them. Her potential is as golfer is just beginning as she gets more experience."