Jessica Hagman thought her future was in basketball.
Then the knee injury happened. The injury cost her her sophomore athletic year. It also made her realize that golf might be the sport that gave her the best long-term opportunities. Last spring, Hagman determined her future, committing to attend Concordia University in St. Paul and compete in their women’s golf program.
Until the injury, Hagman had plans of playing basketball collegiately. She was the leading scorer on the New Richmond High School girls basketball team last winter and was one of the top players in the Middle Border Conference.
The injury not only shaped Hagman’s athletic career, it helped her to decide on an occupation.
“I want to be a physical therapist. (Concordia) has a doctorate program so I’ll never have to transfer,” she explained.
She said going through her lengthy injury recovery, and seeing people in needing other forms of physical therapy, helped her decide that was the career course for her.
Concordia is a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. So is the University of Sioux Falls, where former Tiger Maggie Veenendall is having a successful freshman season, so they’ll be seeing each other several times during their golf seasons.
Hagman has an excitement for where her college golf career will go because she’s still relatively new to the sport. She only began playing four years ago. She immediately proved she was a natural, winning the WIAA Division 1 regional individual championship. Last year, led by Hagman and Veenendall, the Tigers won the sectional championship and qualified for state as a team. Hagman shot a 79 at that sectional meet, missing medalist honors by one stroke. The Tigers placed fifth in the Division 1 state tournament last year.
Hagman said she feels less pressure this year, because she’s playing as an individual instead of being part of a team. After playing a practice round and two tournament rounds at state last year, she said the knowledge of the course makes her more comfortable this year.
Tiger coach Neal Ziller said Hagman is an extremely well prepared golfer and that she will have a plan in place on how to approach every hole on the course.
Hagman said she wants to play better than she did last year at the state tournament. She had an 80 in the opening day of the 2018 tournament, but finished with a 92 on the second day. That left her tied for 34th in the final state results.
“I want to be in the top 10 for Division 1,” Hagman said on her goals for this year’s state tournament.
She will be paired with other top individual qualifiers from the other sectionals at state. Hagman said she liked that idea, because playing against stronger opposition brings out the best in her game. Hagman competed at the WIAA State Championships this Monday and Tuesday at University Ridge Golf Club in Madison.