Athlete of the Week: Skyline’s Sims taking game to new heights
FRONT ROYAL — Lauren Sims has steadily improved during her high school golf career. This year that improvement has helped take her to the state tournament.
The Skyline junior qualified for both the Class 3 state golf tournament and the Virginia High School League girls state golf tournament. Sims said she hasn’t done a whole lot different this year from in years past, but she said she has seen her game progress.
“This year I practiced just as much as I did sophomore year,” Sims said. “And I guess my short game has been a lot better this year.”
Sims, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Athlete of the Week for the week of Sept. 26-Oct. 2, won the Northwestern District Class 3 tournament last week. She shot an 80 at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal.
Sims said her putting was a big key to her success in the Northwestern District tournament.
“I think I played pretty well that day,” Sims said. “I hit my driver well. My short game was good. I had a couple of holes I could have played better. But last week I think I played pretty well. I think my putter was the best part of my game last week. I was making a lot of putts where I had about 10 feet.”
Sims had a 39 on the front nine and a 41 on the back nine in the round. She had birdies on Blue 5 and Blue 7 on the front nine.
Sims said she started playing golf when she was eight-years old. Sims said her dad got her started and she’s been hooked on the game ever since.
“My dad plays golf, so he’s the one that showed me the game,” Sims said. “And he just got me a golf set with three clubs and I’ve played ever since then. I started playing with him and he knew that I had a special talent for the game.”
Sims said she tries to play every day of the year. She’s a member at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club and said she plays every day unless it snows. She said if she’s not playing golf, she’s watching golf.
In her freshman season, Sims said she struggled for the Hawks. So she began practicing even more and it paid off in her sophomore season.
Skyline coach Roy Kelly said Sims’ dedication is a big part of her success.
“She is so dedicated to the game,” Kelly said. “It’s unbelievable — to see that kind of dedication out of a teenager these days.”
Kelly said physically Sims’ driving is a big strength. However, he said her biggest strength overall is definitely her mental game.
“She is so focused and doesn’t let a bad shot get to her,” Kelly said. “She just knows how to handle adversity and is able to recover really well. One of our last matches against Brenstville she had a double bogey on a par 5, and then came back with two straight birdies. That’s just kind of the mental toughness she’s had.”
Sims said she hasn’t always been that mentally tough, but she’s worked on improving it over the last few years.
“I used to get mad or upset about holes if I didn’t play very well on them,” Sims said. “But ever since 10th grade I’ve had a pretty good attitude. And if you have a bad hole you just have to get over it, because there’s 18 holes not just nine holes.”
Playing high school golf, Sims has to compete against boys all the time. Sims is the only female golfer on the Skyline team. She said it’s fun competing against the boys and beating them.
“I think I feel like when I play them usually they think they can beat the girls — it’s just how they are,” Sims said. “They usually complain about the tee boxes — how we’re further up. But it’s just really cool to come out and play as well as them.”
Sims was in an interesting position this week. She followed up her district success with a second-place finish at the Region 3B tournament on Tuesday. Sims shot a 77.
She was able to qualify for both the Class 3 state tournament and the VHSL girls state tournament, but girls aren’t allowed to play both. So Sims had to pick between the two. She chose playing in the girls state tourney, which will be held at Independence Golf Club in Richmond on Oct. 23 and 24.
“It was really cool that I qualified for the guys and the girls (tournaments) and I got to pick which one to play in,” Sims said. “I felt like it was better to play in the girls. Since I’m a female golfer I felt like it would be best to go with the female state (tournament). I’m really excited for it.”