Mathews’ Koehler headed to Tiffin

Tribune Chronicle file / R. Michael Semple Emily Koehler of Mathews, shown in a match earlier this season, will play golf collegiately at Tiffin.

Mathews senior golfer Emily Koehler knows that she may not be the most gifted golfer, but her love for the game transcends the few players that may be better than her. Next fall, Koehler will take that passion with her to Tiffin University, with whom she recently signed, to study forensic science and play the game she loves.

“They (Tiffin) were in the running for about a year,” Koehler said. “It came down to the them and Mount Vernon (Nazarene University) near Mansfield. (But Tiffin) ended up having a really great girls golf program, with a great coach who loves the game. My bigger focus was on my major, forensic science, because at the end of the day, my education is the most important thing.”

Koehler had one of the more accomplished prep golf careers in the Mahoning Valley in recent memory, as she advanced to the district tournament all four years. However, the super-competitive standout never quite made it to state, a lifelong goal of hers.

A year ago, Koehler came up four strokes shy in district play, and this past fall, she was even closer. Back in October, Koehler played at Canton’s Tam O’Shanter Golf Course, where she struggled on the front nine, before recovering on the back nine, but ultimately came up just two strokes short of advancing.

“Oh, that day,” Koehler said, laughing. “I would consider it a roller coaster of emotions. I took a nine on an early hole, and then I came back and took a seven on a hole that I parred in my practice rounds. However, after struggling on the front nine, I realized this was my last district round ever and I wanted to make this one count.”

Koehler did just that, as she improved by 10 strokes, from a 48 to a 38 on the final nine holes. For her high school coach, Greg Denovchek, he’ll miss her production, among other things.

“She’s a great athlete, who puts in a lot of work,” Denovchek said. “She puts in so much time and effort, and her work ethic level is something she should be proud of. (Also) I’m gonna miss all of those 42 and 43 rounds that she had.”

What made Koehler’s high school career even more outstanding is that she actually competed for the Mustangs’ boys golf team, and then went over and went up against girls golfers during postseason play.

Koehler says that she enjoyed beating the guys and realized in golf, the girls can compete with the guys. She also says that she realized that golf is a sport that she’ll always play.

In fact, it was an epiphany she had during her freshman year that allowed her to not only continue succeeding in the high school ranks, but also, land a college scholarship.

“I think my love for the game (will help me),” Koehler said about how she projects to the college level. “After my freshman year, I started to get real serious about it and I realized that I could actually get a scholarship.

“My work ethic and attitude toward the game got a lot better, and I think I showed coaches, ‘She may not shoot in the 60’s, but she shows a lot of heart.’ I realized that I may never make it to the pros, but I just love the game of golf. I’m gonna continue to play the game for the rest of my life, no matter what.”