USC is most known for its foot-ball team, which won the past two of three college football national championships. But academically it’s one of the top schools in the country. And Lihu’e’s Shelcie Takenouchi recently proved that playing an NCAA Division I sport and getting good grades can go together.
The freshman Trojan golfer was one of five athletes to earn student-athlete of the month honors for February.
“So far I think I’m doing good. I haven’t missed any classes so far,” Takenouchi said in a phone interview.
USC athletic counselors choose five athletes every month who not only contribute on a sports team, but also excel in the classroom and show up to class on a regular basis.
“I haven’t gone a day without golfing. There’s only been one day where I haven’t golfed,” Takenouchi said.
The 2005 Kaua’i High School graduate just finished off her first year of collegiate golf for USC.
As the only freshman on the team, Takenouchi said she learned a lot from the entire experience.
“It’s tough, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s different in college compared to high school, because you play two seasons, spring and fall,” Takenouchi said.
In her first season, Takenouchi played in three tournaments, the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, the Ping/ASU Invitational, and the Peg Barnard Collegiate tournament.
“I didn’t do as well as I’d like to, but it was a great experience for me,” Takenouchi said.
In the Peg Barnard, she finished up tied for 76th with a 167 total.
With her first year of college about to end in a few weeks, Takenouchi is planning on coming back to Kaua’i to relax and to possibly take summer courses at Kaua’i Community College.
“I just want to come home and rest. I’ll definitely take at least a week off from golf and I’m going to work for FMPR (Fujita/Miura Public Relations),” Takenouchi said.
The public-relations major wants to work for the PGA or LPGA as a public-relations specialist upon graduation.
If that doesn’t work out, Takenouchi said she would also want to work for companies related with sports activites or sports-wear, such as Nike, and become their PR advisor.
“Along with holding steady clients, I would also like to do side jobs such as being an advocate for a nonprofit organization, using my PR skills, and giving back to the community that has given so much to me,” Takenouchi said.
She has also put some thought into a professional golf career, but for right now, she’s just concentrating on college.
“I think, for the moment being, I just want to graduate with my degree and do something with golf,” Takenouchi said.
In the off-season, Takenouchi said she’s got lots of things to work on, which includes adding more distance to her drives.
“I want to be able to get length on my ball. I definitely want to improve at least a club. My short game is pretty good, but I wouldn’t mind improving that, too,” Takenouchi said.
She currently holds an impressive, 1.5-putt average, but her favorite club isn’t her putter. Instead, it’s her Cleveland, 60-de-gree wedge.
“I play really well around the greens. I like the flop shots. Whenever I have that (wedge) in my hand, I feel very confident around the greens,” Takenouchi said.
Her favorite courses on the island are Poipu Bay and Kauai Lagoons Mokihana Golf Courses.
“Poipu Bay challenges you, especially the last two holes, which require you to concentrate and keep fighting,” Takenouchi said.
Off the course, Shelcie credits many others in her life, including her parents, who have been influential in her decision to attend USC.
“My parents have always been an inspiration, raising two children and sending them both to college while each holding full-time jobs. Both of them have been so unselfish in all of my 18 years, and have always given whatever they could to me first before they even thought of themselves,” Takenouchi said.
“Other than my parents, my teammates and my coaches inspire me everyday to become a better player physically and mentally by pushing me to my limits and encouraging me every step of the way. Without them, the intensity of the passion I have for golf would not be there, and I would not love what I do as much as I do now,” she continued.
Takenouchi’s success in the classroom can be directly attributed to hard work and discipline.
“I feel that traits such as diligence and confidence will help anyone to become academically successful. It does not matter how smart you are, because you can be the smartest person and still fail in school due to lack of discipline,” she said. “Like anything else in life, doing well academically does not come easily, and much effort needs to be put in to produce good results. Set goals for yourself, and that will cause you to force yourself to be focused and do well academically,” Takenouchi said.
Takenouchi was a part of the 2004 Red Raider state champion girls golf team, and she also tied for fourth in the state during her junior year of high-school, state-tournament play.
But her biggest accomplishment so far was during the summer of her senior year, when she was the runner up to Cyd Okino at the Hawai’i State Women’s Match Play event.
Takenouchi’s parents are Karen and Glen. She also has one brother, Shaun, who lives in Seattle.
Other winners of the student-athlete of the month award include Reggie Bush and current USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, who lives a floor above Takenouchi.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org.