Retiring her soccer cleats to focus on her golf swing has teed up a scholarship for Haley Hewer with a NCAA Division II college.
Four years ago the 18 year old decided she wanted her skills to earn her a scholarship, Hewer accomplished that goal with the Northern Michigan University Wildcats.
“It was overwhelming. It was super exciting,” said Hewer, who joins a rookie Wildcats women’s program in Marquette, Michigan.
The Pen High grad began hitting the greens when she was three, but didn’t start playing seriously until she was 12.
“Golf is all about you. It’s how you play, you make decisions,” said Hewer, a three-time Penticton junior golf champ. “How you end up is up to you.”
Over the last year, Hewer noticed an improvement in her golf game and came across an opportunity with the Wildcats. The process of joining the school started last November when a friend, who attended NMU, told her about the new program and suggested she contact coach Kyle Wittenbach. After impressing the coach it was just a few months later she signed her letter of intent for the National Collegiate Athletic Association program.
“The good thing is the girls are all new this year, we are all freshmen,” said Hewer.
A former Wildcats player from Penticton on the men’s team, Ayrton Mantha, suggested Wittenbach evaluate Hewer for the new women’s program. The coach said he is fortunate that he was tipped off about her.
“After I saw her swing, scores and talked to her on the phone I knew I wanted to make her a part of the inaugural women’s program at Northern Michigan University,” said Wittenbach.
Hewer will not be eligible for competition during her first year due to NCAA transfer rules, but that doesn’t impede her from leading the team during workouts, practice and showing the seven freshman on the team how to play at a high level.
“By the 2016-2017 season, I believe Haley could be one of the top players in the conference,” said Wittenback.
Hewer has been playing in the Okanagan Zone 2 tour, which takes golfers throughout the Okanagan Valley, and the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour. She said the field on the MJT is a high calibre and that colleges keep a close eye on player scores.