Nielsen tees up scholarship

With a scholarship secured, Rachelle Nielsen has been able to hit the links more relaxed.

Summerland’s Rachelle Nielsen has earned a scholarship with the Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelina golf team.

Summerland’s Rachelle Nielsen has earned a scholarship with the Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelina golf team.

With a scholarship secured, Rachelle Nielsen has been able to hit the links more relaxed.

The Summerland Secondary School grad is moving to Kingsville, Tex., in the fall to join the Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelina women’s golf team. Nielsen had been focused on earning a scholarship for the last three years.

“I’m really excited that I get to go to Texas A &M and get a degree with that name,” said Nielsen, who finalized the scholarship last fall. “I’m excited to be moving to Texas. I’m a little scared too.”

While in pursuit of playing golf at a college or university, Nielsen contacted division 1 National Collegiate Athletic Association universities, but nothing panned out.

“My game wasn’t quite there. They were looking for more consistent players,” said Nielsen, adding that she shifted her focus to Division II schools. “I discovered it’s a better fit for me as well. Academically and athletically. A little less pressure.”

In a team statement announcing her commitment, Nielsen said, “the school offers small class sizes, my intended engineering major and I will have the chance to play golf year round” as her reason for choosing the Javelina program.

With her future decided, Nielsen, who won a gold medal in golf in the North American Indigenous Games last summer, said she can go out and just have fun while playing. It’s a different after feeling pressure to score well. A former competitive BMX racer, Nielsen didn’t start playing golf until she was six and began playing competitively at 11.

Nielsen has been playing on the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour since she was 13 and won her first event at Banff Springs Golf Course on May 24 after scoring back-to-back rounds of 79. On June 21, Nielsen won the Washington Big I qualifier at Semiahmoo, scoring 13 over par, seven shots better than the second-place golfer.

Nielsen looks forward to being part of the Javelina family and the team atmosphere, something she hasn’t been involved with before. She said the coaching staff of Alessandra and Mark Dominguez are looking to her as a piece towards a rebuild after losing strong seniors.

“She’s very consistent,” said Mark. “She’s a very good athlete. She will bring a lot to the team. She will bring a lot of competition. Make it a little more competitive. We’re really excited to get her here.”

Nielsen will be the first Canadian player in the Javelina program, which is entering its fifth season.