Stingley made an impression on Brown Deer boys golf team
Female athlete was out all four years
Brown Deer graduate Imani Stingley admits that she's a bit of an anomaly.
But she likes it that way.
This past spring, not only was she the only girl in the entire Woodland Conference competing with the boys on the Falcon golf team, but she was also among the relatively few African-American golfers competing in what is considered a white-dominated sport.
"They see me, and they go 'Oh!' and then they see me play and then they go, 'My gosh, she can play. She's a pretty good golfer, too,'" said Stingley.
Yes, she can. Stingley, also an accomplished musician, recently completed her high school athletic career when she turned in a personal best 18-hole score of 88 to finish as the Falcons' third golfer in the WIAA D2 sectional tournament at Badger Creek in New Holstein.
Though a personal best, the score may have been a touch disappointing as she closed with a final hole score of 8.
"Easily could have been in the low 80s," said Falcon coach Kelly Appleby.
Brown Deer finished seventh of 12 in the field as fellow Falcon senior Ryan Hudson missed out on a state individual berth by just two shots with an 81.
The curious thing about this all for Stingley, is that this was not a "one-off" effort, a senior trying something new before she heads off to college. No, Stingley has been with the Brown Deer golf program since her freshman year. She was on the junior varsity that season but made varsity her sophomore year and has stayed there ever since.
"As a freshman she was a JV player who everyone knew had huge potential," said Appleby. "She improved dramatically in her sophomore year when she began playing varsity. The last two years she has become a good player with great potential."
So much so, that she has earned a partial athletic/partial academic scholarship to play golf at Tennessee State University. She finished her academic career at Brown Deer on the honor roll with a 3.1 GPA with an intent to major in music with an emphasis in commercial music and audio technology.
Stingley had been in band and choir in high school, playing the tenor saxophone (which she took up her freshman year) and the flute (which she has been playing since sixth grade). Her Brown Deer jazz group will be playing at Summerfest this Saturday, June 28. She said you should check them out.
Which begs the question, how did she wind up in the position of being the only girl on an all-boys' golf team?
She said it would be best to talk to her father Derrick Stingley, who put a club in her hand at a very early age. He took her out to the Noyes par-3 course off of Good Hope Road and just let her find her groove.
"I was pretty natural at it," she said, "so I kept practicing and kept playing."
But without a girls team to compete for at Brown Deer, Stingley had no choice but to try out for the boys squad.
It didn't take long for her to make an impression.
"The guys were pretty nervous that first year," she said. "I was the only girl, but pretty soon they made it clear that they wanted me to be on the team."
Under the rules, she plays at about 85 percent of the distance that the guys do. She usually played the white tees (the mens') on the par threes and the reds (the womens') tees on the par fours and fives.
She also said the other coaches accepted her, too. During her time playing in the Woodland Conference, Stingley ran into one other girl who played for her boys' team but that was it.
The acceptance by the Brown Deer guys was helped out by the fact that Stingley is a strong athlete and, with a bit of roll, can reach 260 yards with her drives. She said she's greatly improved with her irons, but admits to needing some work with her putting (don't we all?).
"I can two-putt almost all the time," she said. Her best nine-hole effort this season was a 42.
She stays immersed with the sport, thanks to her Dad ("He pretty much has the Golf Channel on all day, everyday," she chuckled) and has taken some lessons. She then goes to the driving range and tries to absorb what she took in.
"But I don't watch it as much on TV (as her Dad does)," she said.
Also a volleyball and basketball player, Stingley worked past an ACL injury her freshmen year to get to her current level.
She said she's going to miss playing for Brown Deer a great deal.
"I love this team so much," she said. "Golf has become my favorite season. Ryan (Hudson) and I were the only seniors, so that was kind of bittersweet (at the sectional). Still, it was nice we could (finish) together."
She also thought that Appleby was a positive influence.
"He was just about my favorite person this year," she said. "He also taught my senior year gym glass. He's just so passionate and 100 percent about everything he does."
Appleby said he will miss Stingley too.
"She leaves me playing the best golf of her life," he said. "Above all, Imani is a good person with strong character and a pleasant countenance. She is a person who you enjoy to be around and makes others smile. I will miss having her at practice, watching her play in meets, and will mostly miss our conversations on those long bus rides ... when she wasn't sleeping (laughs)."
"I like to keep myself busy," she said. "I'm also a youth worker with the Boy Scouts of America in their Scoutreach program, but I have to admit, when I'm not busy, I do tend to sleep a lot (more laughs)."
Dreaming of birdies and eagles and holes-in-one, no doubt.
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