Standout fills leadership role for GVSU golf

GVL / Emily Frye     
Senior Gabrielle Shipley tees off on Sep. 27th.

GVL / Emily Frye Senior Gabrielle Shipley tee’s off on Sep. 27th.

Josh Peick

With the departure of two senior golfers last year, the Grand Valley State women’s golf team only has one senior on the roster in 2015. The departure of Kelly Hartigan, a three-time All-American and four-time All-GLIAC first team honoree, left the Lakers with sizeable soft spikes to fill.

Senior Gabrielle Shipley is not only filling those shoes — she may need a bigger pair.

Shipley, a three-time All-GLIAC first team honoree and 2014 All-American, has an already impressive resume that she is poised to add on to.

Like many successful golfers, Shipley’s pedigree came from years of practice. After swinging small sticks at age 5, Shipley continued to participate in the sport growing up. Shipley went on to play at Hastings High School in Hastings, Michigan, claiming All-State honors four years in a row, including medalist honors at the MHSAA Division III State Championship.

Division I schools noticed Shipley’s high school performance. She received offers from the University of Illinois and Oakland University, but Shipley was looking for something more than just a good golf program. Shipley was looking for a family – something she found at GVSU.

She gained on-course knowledge from Hartigan for three years, which has prepared her to fill the role she’s stepping into in 2015.

“Last year especially, we fed off of each other and helped each other improve,” Shipley said.

Shipley and Hartigan were always similar in skill, but having someone to push her to improve has helped Shipley reached her apex this season.

“I think every good player needs a better player, or at least someone to push them,” said GVSU head coach Rebecca Mailloux. “That’s definitely what Kelly did for three years.”

Now with Hartigan gone, Shipley is ready to fill that role of a leader and someone that the other players on the team can look up to.

“I want to be there for everybody in any way that I can,” Shipley said. “Whether it is for school or working on something on the course, they know that I will always be there to help them.”

Strong leadership is key to any athletic team – regardless of level. The Lakers are on the young end of the spectrum, featuring a roster half full of underclassmen.

“Every team needs someone who sets the bar high and sets the tone for what type of work ethic is expected,” Mailloux said. “There is no one better than Gabby to set that tone.”

Shipley has finished in the top ten in each of her three tournaments to start the 2015 campaign. Her early success is good and well, but Shipley has her eyes on a bigger prize.

“We have a team goal of winning a national championship,” Shipley said. “Individually, I would like to be the No. 1-ranked player in Division II.

“I have gotten to see that trophy handed away to someone else every year.”

Shipley will use that motivation this year to help the team strive for a national championship, while she helps groom the next fleet of leaders for the future of GVSU women’s golf.

“Gabby being there motivates me to do better and work harder,” said junior Alex Taylor, who has played alongside Shipley for two years.

Although this is her last season of collegiate golf, Shipley’s golf career is far from over. After this year, Shipley will play in different tournaments in Florida in order to earn an LPGA tour card.