St. Al’s Phillips mixes track, golf

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, April 14, 2015

St. Aloysius senior Laura Phillips is playing this season with the school’s track and golf teams. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

St. Aloysius senior Laura Phillips is playing this season with the school’s track and golf teams. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

When it comes to two-sport athletes, some combinations are natural fits.

And then there’s the one Laura Phillips has put together.

Some days, the St. Aloysius senior is enjoying a slow-paced round of golf. Others, she’s running as fast as she can for the school’s successful girls track program.

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It’s an odd split that Phillips has handled well. She’s one of the top golfers on a two-time defending state championship team, and has also been a contributor to a successful track program.

“It’s two totally different mental things,” said Phillips, who will run with the track team in today’s Division 7-1A meet at Clinton High School. “Track is quick. With golf, you have to stay focused for four or five hours. It’s very different mentally. I’ve never thought about how different they are. I just enjoy both.”

While mentally shifting gears between sports can be a challenge, Phillips said the most difficult part is actually budgeting her time. Golf tournaments and track meets are both typically all-day affairs, so she rarely has to shuttle from one to the other. Classwork, however, is always present and must be dealt with when the games are finished.

That’s a challenge she’s also conquering.

Despite missing a day of school about once a week to play in golf tournaments, Phillips said she’s getting an A in advanced placement calculus and a B in AP biology.

“It hasn’t really conflicted at all,” St. Al golf coach Liz Fletcher said of the time demands of the two sports. “It hasn’t been a problem at all. She’s able to do both and divide her time well.”

Golf, Phillips said, has always been her passion. She started going to the course with her father when she was 4 years old. Over the past decade-plus she developed into a solid junior player and a championship contender in high school.

Phillips finished fourth in the individual standings at both the 2012 and 2013 Class I tournaments, and was third last year. She helped lead St. Al to the team championship each of the last two years.

“I started golfing when I was 4 and have been golfing ever since. I love the game. I can play it on my deathbed,” Phillips said.

In early 2014, however, Phillips decided to give track a whirl to help with her conditioning. Players are required to walk for 18 holes during tournaments, which can be deceptively demanding physically.

Phillips hasn’t yet had the type of success in her second sport as she’s had on the golf course but has held her own while running the hurdles and sprint relays.

“I started running track last year because I needed a sport to keep me in shape,” Phillips said. “I’ve always been a semi-fast runner. I always thought I could compete. Once Coach (Keiko) Booth started coaching me, I got to the point where I knew I could compete.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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