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The Scarlet & Black

Nina Kouchi wins SLIAC women’s golfer of the week for second time

Nina Kouchi ’22 has won the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Women’s Golfer for the second time this season. Kouchi has won two tournaments this year, and her scoring has placed her at the top of the division. Photo by Isabel Torrence

Last week, Nina Kouchi ’22 was named the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Women’s Golfer of the Week for the second time this season. Despite only being a second year, she has already won a multitude of awards, gaining recognition not only for her skill in golf, but also for her enthusiasm.   

 “This year, [Nina’s] gotten off to an incredible start,” said Head Women’s Golf Coach David Arseneault Jr. “Her scoring average right now is around 74, which is one of the top in all of Division III. She’s already won two tournaments this year, the August Anna Highland Classic and the Prairie Fire Knox College invite.”   

 Recruited to play for Grinnell College when she was a senior in high school, Kouchi has proven herself to be an amazing player, and more. In her first fall season with the College, she helped bring the team into the top three, set a school record for the low 18-hole round, and was named the first-year Women’s Athlete of the Year.   

 While her coach compliments her strong driver—the starting swing that sets a golfer up for success—Kouchi also focuses on her short game, homing in on the different ways she can improve. At each practice, Coach Arseneault Jr. notes how her intense focus makes her one of the strongest players on the team. “She’s always been very specific about the areas that she needs to continue to improve on. And on top of being specific, she knows her own game and her own swing so well that she knows what it takes,” said Arseneault Jr.   

 But, having all of these achievements does not deter her from enjoying the sport. “Honestly, I don’t really think about my scores too much as a whole,” said Kouchi. “Once I play around, I know what I need to work on moving forward. … [With tournaments,] I try to go out there and just have fun … ”  

 Having started playing golf at the age of six, Kouchi credits her dad with starting her on her golf journey and for helping her continue to stick with the sport. She is also grateful to the coaching staff for supporting her, and most of all, to her teammates. “The girls on the team, they’re wonderful. You can talk about anything, whether it’s golf, school, anything outside of that. We’re more than just friends on the course,” said Kouchi.   

 With only six players on the team this year, maintaining a good dynamic between each player is important to Kouchi, especially as team captain and an older player. “It’s always good to know that I have people I can count on and talk to,” said Kouchi. And the same is true for the reverse. “She’s loved by her teammates, first and foremost,” says Arseneault Jr., “She just brings a lot of energy every single day at practice, and she makes it fun for everyone.”  

 With her bright personality and an equally bright future ahead, Kouchi hopes to keep her focus and continue to enjoy golf. By starting the season off strong, and by keeping her team close, she will certainly keep on growing, both as a golfer and a human being.     

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