Rachael Kell signs to play golf at Maryville University after graduation. Rachael is in between her parents, NCHS girls golf coach Doug Kell, and Kim Kell. Standing is NCHS Principal Mark Begando, NCHS Athletic Director Alicia Heggemeier, and NHCS Assistant girls golf coach Don Hawkins.
By Brent Huelsmann
NCHS Senior Rachael Kell will be swinging the clubs for the Saints of Maryville University after graduation. Kell, an All-Conference and All-South golfer for the Hornettes golf team signed to play at Maryville University after her high school athletic career is over. Kell, also a member of the NCHS girls basketball team and track and field team, will head to St. Louis where the the Saints play in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
Rachael said of her decision. “I only visited Maryville. Coach Paulus and and Coach Thomas were really supportive of me all season, and always kept track of me, how my scores were and everything, so it just made me feel like they would be good coaches for me. When I went on my visit to Maryville, I just loved the campus and I did a tryout with the coaches and they were so supportive and it was great.”
Rachael played golf at Nashville during one of the best stretches in NCHS history. In the past four seasons, the Hornettes never lost the annual Nashville Golf Tournament, which is one of the first tournaments the team plays in. The Hornettes also won three SIRR Conference Mississippi Division, in which Kell was named All-Conference three times. The Hornettes also won two Regional Championships during this stretch, and one Sectional Championship. The Hornettes brought home two IHSA Class 1A State Trophies the past two seasons. In the 2016, the Hornettes finished second in Class 1A, this past season, the Hornettes finished third in Class 1A
Rachael is the next in a long line of NCHS golfers to move on to the college level, but it’s extra special for Hornets coach Doug Kell. “It is, it’s nice. I’m always proud as a coach to send these girls off, but when it’s your daughter it’s kind of extra special. Hopefully she’s not the only of the four seniors. Real proud of her. They have a great program for what she wants to study, and they’re adding players this year. They’re going from six players to eight players so there is going to be more competition on the team, which I love. Even if that means she’s going to work harder to get that travel spot or whatever. I think its going to be better for the program. I’m looking to them being a strong program in the conference. They are really trying to build to getting to the national tournament. I like hearing those kind of things from the coaches. They’re pumped about getting Rachael, they like everything that they see, and for good reason. I think she’s deserved what she’s getting so far.”
As for the biggest difference between highschool and college, Rachael Kell said, “Well my dad won’t be my coach anymore, so that will be a big change. I guess just trying to balance classes and everything that I’ll be involved in since it’s all year round. I don’t have basketball and track in between anymore.”
Doug Kell echoed the same about being able to balance her schedule. “Managing her time. Going into physical therapy, she is going to have a whole lot more on her plate than just playing golf and hanging out and things like that. She’s great with that as far as time management, she should do fine with that. Living away from home obviously, although it’s not that far she could come home any day she wants to really. Meeting new people, learning a whole new system. All that stuff is going to be a challenge the first semester at least, and then hopefully the second semester, everything will kind of be worked out. I’ve had a little experience with my son, and now that he is in his second year of college, it’s a world of difference between first year and second. Hopefully it’s like that first semester and second semester. The spring semester is their championship season anyway. That’s when they have conference championships, and things like that. That is the one that is most important, so hopefully after having a semester under her belt she will really contribute to their success.”
As for the player that Maryville is getting, Doug Kell said, “I think she is a very strong mental person. She doesn’t let the highs get to high, and she doesn’t let the lows get to low. She stays even-keeled throughout, and you have to in the game of golf. Its a six to seven hour round a lot of times, and you cant get overly emotional at any point, good or bad. She’s got a real good head on her shoulders and on top of that she hits the ball a really long way. She’s got a naturally good swing. I’m not going to say Coach Hawkins and I haven’t helped her with it from time to time, but basically it’s kind of what she was born with, so we haven’t had to do much tweaking on that and that’s a good bonus.”
Rachael also talked about how big of a relief it is to get this done. “Having it decided in the first semester still is so much relief. Just deciding what school I’m going to go to just takes off 90% of the stress of senior year. Basketball I don’t really have anything to lose. I’m not trying to fight for a scholarship, track is the same way, so I’m just trying to make the most of senior year.”
“I think both state trips just really stand out for me. Especially senior year, just the success we had as a team, fighting back for that trophy the second day. The team as a whole, those girls were with me from first grade, kindergarten all the way through and now it’s finally over,” said Kell after being asked about moments that stand out at Nashville.
Maryville University is a NCAA Division II school in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Great Lakes Valley Conference is made up of Bellarmine, Drury University, Illinois-Springfield, Indianapolis, Lews, Maryville, McKendree, Missouri S&T, Missouri-St. Louis, Quincy, Rockhurst, Southern Indiana, Truman State, UW-Parkside, and William Jewell.