From home pad­dock to New York

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By PETRICE TAR­RANT

From the low-ly­ing hills of Oko­roire to the bright lights of New York – who ever said small town kids can’t think big? Cer­tainly not Kyra Alexan­der. The talented young golfer has landed a four-year schol­ar­ship to Wagner Col­lege on Staten Is­land.

The past few years have seen her make huge progress in the in­di­vid­ual sport, win­ning Waikato Age Groups two years ago, plac­ing sev­enth in last year’s New Zealand Age Groups and most re­cently be­ing se­lected as the fifth player for the Waikato Women’s side that com­peted in the In­ter­Provin­cial cham­pi­onships.

But 18-year-old Alexan­der said it all started with the swing of a club on the front lawn of her Oko­roire home.

‘‘My dad used to mow a sec­tion of a pad­dock in front of the house and he used to prac­tice there. One day I went out and hit a golf ball and they [her par­ents] thought ‘oh, she can hit a golf ball’ so they got me into it.’’

That back coun­try pad­dock proved to be a wor­thy train­ing ground un­til she made the Golf Academy at St Peter’s School Cam­bridge.

But it is good­bye to those familiar South Waikato hills – for four years at least.

Alexan­der, who flew to the United States on Sun­day, said col­lege of­fi­cially starts on Au­gust 28 so she will have at least one week to find her way around her new stomp­ing ground.

Wagner Col­lege is pay­ing for 90 per cent of all her school­ing and on-cam­pus ac­com­mo­da­tion leav­ing just 10 per cent for Alexan­der to cover.

She said she plans on even­tu­ally pay­ing for the re­main­der of her fees through golf. ‘‘ There are more op­por­tu­ni­ties [in the US] I guess . . . there’s way more spon­sor­ship . . . and just a lot more golf.’’

She is ex­tremely proud of her se­lec­tion but the hum­ble teenager said gain­ing an Amer­i­can schol­ar­ship is some­thing a lot more stu­dent ath­letes should look into.

‘‘Even if you’re av­er­age you can get a small schol­ar­ship.’’

Photo: LAURA MCLEAY

Aim­ing high: Kyra Alexan­der proves small town girls can think big.

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