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Lea Lemieux: Toppers Pizza Elementary Athlete Spotlight

If I was prone to place a bet or two, I suspect I would wager that the post-secondary sport of choice for 13 year old Lea Lemieux would be golf.

Mind you, it could still be basketball - or perhaps even an athletic pursuit that the grade eight student at Lo-Ellen Park picks up as she works her way from grade nine to graduation.

Such is the athletic diversity that she possesses. At the moment, however, the smart money is on golf.

"I really like golf because it's both an athletic game, but also a thinking game," stated Lemieux, far and away the top youth female golfer in the area, and one who can more than hold her own against the majority of same-aged male golfers in Sudbury.

"When I'm preparing to hit the ball, I like doing the calculations associated with the shot, taking into account things like wind direction, the height differential, knowing which club to use, and whether to draw or fade it."

"I think that's all pretty interesting."

Spending her early years at Alexander Public School, Lemieux was omnipresent at tryouts for basketball and volleyball, soccer and cross-country.

Typically, she excelled.

She remains, to this day, a key component of her Sudbury Jam club basketball team.

But there is something a little different when she sets foot on the golf course.

"When I was about ten, I tried my first tournament - actually decided to play on the day of the tournament," she said. "I had so much fun, I knew that I wanted to play more tournaments."

And while she has tasted victory on many an occasion, it was a runner-up finish that still stands out most in her mind. "Last year, at the end of the season, there was the CJGA (Canadian Junior Golf Association) National Peewee Championship," recalled Lemieux.

"I shot high 80s on the first day. On the second day, I just went out to have fun and shot low seventies to come in second. That was probably my highlight of the year."

As is the case with the majority of the local juniors who have committed to schools south of the border in recent years, Lemieux stresses the need to continually focus on her mental game.

"It's really improved in the last couple of years - just controlling my emotions, not getting too down on myself, staying in the moment," she said. "I read a really good book, "Own Your Game", and found that really interesting."

And when she has the need to unwind, there is that reality that school sports, by and large, offer a different level of competition.

"A lot of the people who will play school sports might be beginners or newer to the sport, so it's a little bit more for fun, letting us connect with other people and make more friends."

Ironically, for someone who is clearly in her element in an individual sport environment, the concept of also showing well in her primary team sport of basketball taps into a slightly different viewpoint on personal responsibility.

"In golf, you can't really blame it on anybody else," she said. "But when you're playing on a team, sometimes there can be more pressure, because you're trying to make sure that you are always helping your teammates."

With the snow about the hit the ground, Lemieux will soon shift her focus, ever so slightly.

"Usually, during the basketball season, I don't practise as much in golf," she confessed. "But we do have a little set-up at home, with a net, so I will train a few times a week through most of the fall and winter."

Not wanting to get too far ahead of herself, Lemieux remains grounded, though tracking the progress of the likes of Brooke Henderson and others is a fairly natural pastime.

"Breaking through to the LPGA circuit seems a far way off," she said. "I do, however, keep LPGA player statistics handy, as they are used as a reference point to track my progress."

Though not yet in high-school, Lea Lemieux has had much in the way of golf progress to track already.

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