Janelle Kuhn was the first female in the history of Okawville High School to earn 12 varsity letters. These days, she is taking the same attitude of dedication and performance to the task of helping the Rend Lake College Lady Warriors excel.
The 19-year-old Okawville native is the daughter of Mark and Lisa Kuhn.
“My father was a sports fanatic and just pushed me to try different sports,” Janelle Kuhn said. “He had his old clubs cut down and my brother and I would just mess around in the back yard. I never took golf seriously until the summer of my freshman year of high school.”
She said what draws her to the game is the idea that “it’s just you and the ball. Only you can determine what will happen and only you can beat yourself up if the ball doesn’t get into the hole.”
The Lady Warriors recently won the NJCAA Region XXIV Golf Championship at The Rail Golf Club in Springfield, a victory which Kuhn considers the team’s proudest achievement so far.
“It felt so good to beat our biggest rival (John A. Logan) and advance to the nationals,” Kuhn said. The NJCAA National Championship will be held May 15-18 at LPGA International in Daytona, Fla., and Kuhn already is anticipating the challenge.
“I think we have the talent and desire to go down to Florida and really tear it up,” she said. Kuhn said she did not play her best golf this fall, but hopes to fire up her “A-game” this spring.
“The best part of being on the golf team is having, and knowing you have, five sisters who will do anything in their power to help you when you are in need. They pick me up when I’m down and make be laugh when I’m upset after a rough day on the course,” Kuhn said. “Coach Z (first-year Head Coach Craig Zinzilieta) is an amazing coach and knows so much about the game. I’m very privileged to have him teach me about the golf swing.”
Kuhn said she believes she brings a high level of competitiveness to the team, “which hopefully makes everyone else want to step up their games.” She said she also tries to bring a bit of comic relief every so often to keep the team loose but focused.
“She is the spiritual and personality leader of our team. She sets the mood day in and day out at practice,” Zinzilieta said of Kuhn. “She is a great person, a great student and is ultra competitive.”
Zinzilieta said he considers Meredith Mosel (DeSoto), the team’s lone sophomore, to be the official leader of the team, “but Janelle is the unofficial leader. She is always at the center of every conversation or happening on our team and helps to keep everyone loose. She has a great and friendly personality, but she wants to excel at everything that she does. She will be fun and friendly, but inside she wants to beat your brains in.”
Kuhn plans to earn an Associate Degree from Rend Lake College, then transfer to a four-year university where she can continue to play golf. She said she intends to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and a Master’s Degree in Sports Management, and hopes to become a coach and athletic director.
“I chose to come to Rend Lake College because of its great golf tradition and the success it’s had in the few years of its women’s golf program. I felt this was a great place for me to really improve my game and have the best opportunity to move on to the next level,” Kuhn said. She added that RLC is close to home, yet far enough away for her to move out and gain a real sense of freedom and responsibility.
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