Big 12 Campus Correspondent
To be a leader it takes confidence, skill, motivation and discipline. It takes hard work, sweat and enthusiasm. The word "leader" can be defined in many different ways, but for Kansas State women's golfer Gianna Misenhelter, being a leader simply means to have drive, the drive to succeed and the drive to win on and off the golf course.
Misenhelter's drive to succeed is a testament to her consistency and solid finishes.
The sophomore leads her team in five categories, including stroke average (74.61), under par round (eight), Top 5 finishes (two), Top 10 finishes (four) and Top 20 finishes (four).
"I do not know if a lot of people come to college and do the same thing as me, but when I came to play at K-State, I set goals for myself," Misenhelter said. "I am sure going to attain them. People will not hold me back. That is my drive."
The Overland Park, Kan., native came to K-State as the only freshman in her recruiting class. Misenhelter excelled as a freshman as she participated in all 11 events, carded the best stroke average for the fall 2010 season and impressively won the Kansas Amateur Championship in the summer of 2011.
Misenhelter certainly made a statement her freshman year and was indeed ready to prove herself again her sophomore year.
"I was the only freshman coming in, and now I am the only sophomore," Misenhelter said. "It was tough coming in, as a freshman and traveling, because then people think ‘she is here to play'."
Last Fall, Misenhelter participated in all five team events. She earned her first Top-5 finish at the Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational where she carded a 2-over par 218 to score a career-high second place finish. She notched a second consecutive Top-5 finish with a career high 1-over par 217 to tie for fourth at the Johnie Imes Invitational in Columbia, Mo.
"I love Mizzou's golf course, and I like playing well at Mizzou," Misenhelter said. "At the beginning of the tournament, I started out very rough, and it was really disappointing, but I hung in there. The last round, I had family and friends come out and watch me, and I believe I thrive off that. I shot a 70 that round, and I remember that day I actually felt like I won the tournament because of the way I finished."
She concluded the fall season in South Carolina where she earned her third Top-10 finish on the year, scoring a 2-over par 218.
Misenhelter's golf was thriving. She competed in the Silver Belle Tournament in the winter, carding a personal best 18-hole score of 7-under par 65 and winning the college division of the tournament.
The sophomore started the spring season strong, as she earned her seventh under par round of the 2011-12 season. She tallied a career-best 2-under par 214 to finish in a tie for seventh and earning her fourth Top-10 finish.
Misenhelter has an unmatchable drive to succeed, which is testament to the hard work and effort she puts into improving her golf game.
When told her putting game needed work, Misenhelter immediately went to Jim Colbert, former pro golfer and founder of Colbert Hills Golf Course, and asked for advice.
"I have a go-get-it personality," Misenhelter said. "So I went straight to Jim Colbert himself and asked for advice. Mr. Colbert and I talked for almost two hours about mind and golf."
Her fiery personality and outgoing demeanor are a tribute to her leadership style.
"She is a source of laughter almost daily." K-State head coach Kristi Knight said. "She will speak her mind, which I like. No doubt her teammates respect her as a person and they respect her game. She definitely leads by example."
Misenhelter is not afraid to give her teammates constructive criticism because not only does she want to succeed, she wants her teammates to have success as well.
"She is a leader," teammate Whitney Pyle said. "I think all of us are leaders, and we show it in different ways, but she is always there to pick you up. Even when she has a bad day, she is always there to cheer on the team. She is very outgoing, and she is not afraid to tell it like it is."
Misenhelter enjoys taking a leadership position on the team, even as a sophomore. She believes success is team unity. In order to win individually, she must first be a good teammate. The sophomore states there are a lot of strong players on her Wildcat team, but she believes it is her calling to be a strong leader.
"She has an incredible work ethic," said Knight. "She may try too hard sometimes, and I think she realized, that these past few days, but she seems very at ease and very confident. She has shot an awful lot of good scores, and she has already improved her game tremendously in the last year."
Misenhelter's incredible work ethic is a testament to her consistently good golf scores, and even on an off day, she makes sure her teammates are upbeat and playing to their ability.
"I always look to her to keep her head up because we all have our bad days," Pyle said. "It is great when she comes in and did not do as well in a round as she would have liked, but she is still cheering on her teammates."
A leader can be defined many different ways, but for Gianna Misenhelter, being a leader means being driven. There must be drive to succeed on and off the golf course, the drive to be a good teammate and the drive to improve. With that there is success.