Over the past four years, the faces on Minnesota’s women’s golf team have changed significantly. Players graduate or transfer and new recruits take their place. Experienced leaders play an important role in the preparation and growth of younger teammates. For the Gophers, that leader is Maggie Heggerston.
On a roster comprising primarily underclassmen, Heggerston knows her responsibility is to lend perspective and insight based on her time playing at the NCAA level. Now in her senior season, she has become someone her teammates especially appreciate spending time around.
“I’m a people person, so it’s really easy for me,” Heggerston said. “People have told me they feel really comfortable around me. … I genuinely enjoy every single one of the players on our team, so it’s really easy to make people feel included and have a good time.”
Senior leaders are something the women’s team haven’t had much of in recent years. When Heggerston was a freshman, the roster didn’t have any seniors. The team only had one each of the last two seasons. In her final year of eligibility, Heggerston feels she can provide important perspectives the team didn’t have when she was an underclassmen.
“My freshman and sophomore year, we were pretty young,” Heggerston said. “We all just stuck together and had to be our own leaders. Throughout the years, I’ve learned a lot from [head] coach [Michele] Redman and just [from] being a student-athlete.”
Many coaches, regardless of sport, insist the best programs are player-led. Redman said she’s been pleasantly surprised this season with how her players have held one another accountable, and every member of the squad exhibits leadership qualities in their own unique way.
“It’s been interesting with our team this year,” Redman said. “I think they’ve been leading from within, all of them, which is really unusual, but it’s the way to go.”
For Minnesota, it has become especially important that the players take charge and push one another, as they get closer to their upcoming tournament in Nevada on Oct. 22.
Heggerston considers herself fortunate to have teammates who are willing and able to take on significant leadership roles on the team. One such teammate is fellow senior Muyu Wu, who Heggerston has played with for all four seasons at Minnesota.
“[Wu] and I are so close; she’s one of my best friends,” Heggerston said. “We’re from different sides of the world, but we’ve been each other’s family. I’ve been super lucky to have her in the same class.”
After golfing in exactly six tournaments for the Gophers each of her first three seasons, Heggerston has competed in just one so far this fall, the Minnesota Invitational in Woodbury.
Despite not competing since, coach Redman complimented Heggerston on dedicating herself to the team and making sure her teammates know what is expected of them.
“Because she’s been here so long, she knows what we expect as coaches,” Redman said. “I know she does a good job of communicating that. She just has that natural born leader quality to her. The girls really take a liking to her because she’s really good at making the players feel welcome.”
Looking back on her time at Minnesota, Heggerston credits the golf team with helping her grow as a person. The Pequot Lakes native says it has been a special experience getting to represent her home state at the collegiate level.
With just one tournament left before the end of her final fall season, Heggerston said she can’t believe her college career is nearly over. Still, she says there’s more to accomplish in her final spring with the program.
“I have remind myself to enjoy every day and every experience,” Heggerston said. “I would absolutely love to go to one more Big Ten tournament and see our team go to Regionals.”