116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
It’s been said “in the end, we only regret the chances we did not take.”
For Xavier senior Kaitlin Hotchkiss, she is taking a chance on playing golf in college at Mount Mercy University.
Although she has been dedicated to the sport throughout her high school years, golf was not her top priority as a young girl.
“I have golfed my entire life, but I really started developing a passion for golf my freshman year after I played the season,” Hotchkiss said.
Her first passion was gymnastics, which turned into a love for cheerleading and dance. After experiencing multiple injuries, she decided to give those up.
“She did not start playing competitively until high school after much encouragement from her grandfather,” her mother, Kim, said. “He took her to practice and follows her at every tournament/meet — rain or shine.”
Her interest in golf did not begin with the love for the sport, but rather the desire to be around her grandparents.
“She started playing golf with her grandparents and really played just because she enjoyed being with them,” Kim said. “It became their thing to do together.”
The community of people she was surrounded by, specifically at Xavier, allowed for Hotchkiss to find an atmosphere she was comfortable in while growing her passion for golf.
“The junior and seniors, specifically Libby Kramer and Emily O’Rourke, along with Coach K (Julie Kadlec) were incredible,” Kim said. “They mentored her and provided such a positive environment for her to continue to improve.”
A close bond between Hotchkiss and her golf teammates has accounted for many happy moments.
“Golf at Xavier has impacted my life so much,” she said. “My teammates and coaches helped me to feel part of the team and have given me some of my best memories when I think about golf.”
Her time at Xavier is not finished, however, and she has dedicated time on the golf course to get ready for her senior season this spring.
“Although she lost her junior year of golf due to COVID-19, she really continued to practice and play throughout the summer,” Kim said.
This constant effort and hard work has earned Hotchkiss multiple achievements.
“Kaitlin has provided our team with a consistent and dependable player each year she has played,” Kadlec said. “She was our number three player both her freshman and sophomore years, nipping at the heels and sliding in and out of the top three positions with two teammates qualifying for state in 2018 and then qualifying as an individual herself, as did those two teammates and the team, in 2019.
“She was a driving force for the team earning a third-place finish in Class 3A.”
These accomplishments are a reflection of Hotchkiss’ character.
“It is a very rewarding experience coaching Kaitlin,” Kadlec said. “She is very self-driven as an athlete and her work ethic is amazing.”
Although Hotchkiss is in the midst of her senior season, college also is approaching soon.
“Making my decision to continue my career in college made me put a lot of time and thought into if this is what I wanted to do,” she said. “I was always told by my mom that you do not want to have any regrets in your life and you do not know how far or how good you will be unless you try.”
Hotchkiss said choosing to not play in college would be a significant regret.
“I am excited to be playing with a new team, to make new memories and have new experiences,” she said.
Those potential opportunities seemed to be fitting for Hotchkiss at Mount Mercy University.
“Mount Mercy actually started reaching out to Kaitlin the summer after her freshman year,” Kim said. “Although the coach has since changed, we have felt from the beginning Mount Mercy could really be a great fit for Kaitlin academically and that she can also continue playing golf was just an added bonus.”
Finding the right fit gives Hotchkiss a chance to succeed at the next level.
“My advice to her on stepping to the collegiate level of golf is to continue developing that inner drive to perform at the level at which she has worked so hard to achieve,” Kadlec said. “There are no boundaries for what she can contribute to the sport of golf.”