CEDAR RAPIDS – If anyone could benefit from a 25-hour day or an eight-day week, it is M.J. Kamin.
Maybe the Cedar Rapids Washington junior would be better served by a clone, instead of squeezing the most out of each moment the clock and calendar allow, especially this time of year.
Kamin will balance duties as a standout golfer and soccer player for the Warriors again this spring, looking to return to the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union state golf tournament for the second straight year.
She dedicates a lot of time to being a multi-sport, student athlete, but receives support from family, coaches and teachers.
“It is a lot of work,” said Kamin, a captain on the Warriors cross country team in the fall and reserve for the varsity basketball team. “My parents do a lot to help me plan ahead. The biggest part is figuring out when I can go to golf and when I can go to soccer, communicating to my coaches about it and making sure I go where I need to go and when I need to go.”
Sometimes that means Kamin almost has to be in two places at the same time. She recalled golfing in the Linn-Mar Invitational at Hunters Ridge, changing in the clubhouse after the round and heading to Kingston Stadium for a soccer match. Preparing for the seasons and prioritizing the events is just as much work as participating.
“It happens frequently,” Washington girls golf coach and former Athletics Director Dennis Goettel said. “In January, she went through and did both schedules and knew exactly what events she’ll be able to do, ones she can’t and days she will try to do both.”
A prime example was her state tournament debut. In her first year as a varsity golfer last season, Kamin qualified for the state tournament and tied for 12th in Class 4A. She didn’t stick around to celebrate as she returned for postseason soccer.
“I couldn’t stay and see the awards ceremony,” said Kamin, whose team lost to the Tigers in overtime. “I had to start driving home, so I could get to my substate game.
“We played a really good game against them, and I was able to get there on time, so that was good.”
It could happen again this year with the 5A state meet at Lake Panorama Golf Resort in Panora is the same time as regional soccer games. Goettel expects her to compete in the first round for golf, play soccer and finish with the second round at state.
Her dedication is not limited to sports. She is the Profiles Editor for Washington’s student newspaper, boasting a 4.47 cumulative grade-point average.
“I think she’s a tremendous role model for a lot of people, and yet she wouldn’t picture herself that way,” Goettel said. “She’s just doing what she loves to do and does it extremely well with more dedication than most people who do one sport.”
Recently, Washington has had athletes double-up in the spring, including Sara Novak, who played golf and soccer, and tennis and soccer standout Katie Hammond. Kamin faces the same conflicts with games and meets. She said she doesn’t miss much, balancing practice for contrasting activities.
Mental toughness serves a key role in being able to compete in two sports during the same season and being successful on the course and pitch.
“It’s also hard when you have to prepare for two different sports,” Kamin said. “I only go to soccer practice during the week. I’ll just practice golf on the weekend.”
Kamin owns aspirations of playing golf in college, admitting it is easier to picture that more than soccer. She said she thinks she has a better chance to secure a college scholarship through golf.
“I love golf and soccer a ton,” Kamin said. “It’s one of the reasons I play two sports. When I think about my future, I’d really like to go and play golf in college.”
Even more impressive is what she was able to accomplish while splitting time. The top-12 state finish was good for first-team all-Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division and all-Metro honors. Kamin was pleased with the entire season, noting she achieved her ultimate goal of reaching the state meet.
“I actually played well there,” Kamin said. “It helped me to see that it’s really attainable again this year and that will be my main goal again.
“I’d like to finish in the top 10 and a top-five finish would be great, but we’re focused on getting there right now.”
She increased her work and competition in the offseason. Kamin hits the ball further and has concentrated on improving her short game, which caused trouble at times last year. During the summer, she played tournaments about every two weeks, winning the 13- to 15-year-old division of the Junior PGA Iowa Championship. She gained confidence with her performances.
“Just seeing you can win those bigger tournaments and getting a lot more playing time against other girls,” Kamin said. “I could just go out and play a lot of golf in the summer, but I think it definitely helped being able to go and compete against other girls.”
Goettel has worked with and witnessed a number of successful athletes. He respects Kamin’s achievements, and would like the Warriors to have her impact daily as a leader.
“I really wish she’d be in everyday, because of the influence she has on other kids,” Goettel said. “She’s focused and concentrates. She’s not obsessive about it. She still knows how to have fun. I just can’t find flaws in her at all.”