UNK Today | August 2014 - page 24

By CONNOR O’GARA
Hub Sports Writer
KEARNEY — Lucas
Grossnicklaus was not
impressed.
The Aurora senior sharply
walked off the 18th tee box at
Indianhead Country Club in the
first round of this year’s Class
B state golf meet. His drive
didn’t find the fairway follow-
ing a double-bogey on the par-3
17th. In a rare fit of emotion,
he slammed his water bottle
against his bag.
Frustrated he was.
Grossnicklaus got to the
meet because of his short game
and accuracy. It was his fourth
and final time competing at
state. That precision is why the
freshman-to-be is continuing
his golf career the University
of Nebraska at Kearney. He
couldn’t afford to leave 10-foot
putts short or miss fairways.
Onward he trudged, upset
that he wasn’t meeting the high
expectations he set — and usu-
ally surpassed — for himself. It
didn’t matter that one of those
trudging legs was made of
stainless steel.
Grossnicklaus doesn’t remem-
ber many normal steps. When
he was 4, he was diagnosed with
scleroderma, which suffocated
his right leg. The stiffness made
it impossible to bend.
By the time he hit seventh
grade, his right leg was 4 inch-
es shorter than his left. He wore
a 4-inch lift in his right shoe
to compensate. Because of the
unbalance, he developed signs
of scoliosis.
“My whole body wasn’t doing
too well,” Grossnicklaus said.
Despite the growing diffi-
culties, Grossnicklaus lived an
active life. His condition pre-
vented him from running, but
he still found ways to satisfy
his competitive itch. Golf was
one of them.
That made it even tougher
when his doctors advised him
to amputate the leg following
seventh grade. He was fitted
for a prosthetic leg, one that
allowed him limited mobility
but the ability to bend.
The surgery could’ve easily
marked the end of his athletic
career. Instead, it was just the
beginning.
Nearly every day that summer
was spent on the golf course. He
had a game to relearn. He had a
body to relearn.
“I was never going to give up
on the sport,” Grossnicklaus said.
“That’s how much I loved it.”
He wasn’t much of a power
golfer before the procedure. With
his new leg, weight distribution
became an even higher priority.
Grossnicklaus wasn’t able to
generate the lower body power
on drives that other golfers
could. That turned out to be
a blessing. With a drive that
maxed out close to 260 yards,
his swing was simplified. There
isn’t much variation — if any
— between his practice swing
and his real swing.
That compact approach was
one Aurora golf coach Craig
Badura wanted his team to emu-
late. Badura preaches that 65
percent of the time, high school
golfers will be shooting from
110 yards and in. Grossnicklaus
medaled at state three times —
including the sixth-place finish
he rallied to this year after his
late Day 1 struggles — execut-
ing that philosophy.
Despite his steady play,
Grossnicklaus received major
interest from only a couple
college programs.
“He wasn’t recruited heavily,
and I wonder if it was because of
his prosthetic leg,” Badura said.
“But the kid is so consistent. I
think a lot of coaches tend to look
at length. Personally, I’d take
accuracy over length any day, as
that kid showed for four years.”
Some are fascinated by it.
Some pretend not to notice it,
even though it’s obviously the
elephant in the room.
Grossnicklaus is used to peo-
ple in his threesome asking him
about his prosthetic leg. Those
are the times he remembers that
he’s not like everyone else.
Over the last six years,
Grossnicklaus developed
a routine of attaching and
detaching his leg every day. It’s
no different than brushing his
teeth. Nonetheless, it’s still a
conversation starter.
“I think a lot of people are
inspired by him and they’re
curious about it. Some people
are afraid to ask him about it,”
Badura said. “A lot of times,
he’ll make quips and joke
about it. He’s made the best of
his situation.”
Grossnicklaus doesn’t want
people to feel sorry for him, nor
does he want his competitors to
think he’s any different than they
are. As a high school freshman,
he received clearance from the
NSAA to use a cart. But he
couldn’t ignore murmuring from
competitors who said that created
an unfair advantage.
So after his sophomore year,
Grossnicklaus ditched the cart.
“It was definitely one of my
better decisions,” Grossnick-
laus said. “I don’t think I could
ever go back to using a cart in
competition.”
He won’t use one at UNK,
where he’ll focus on keeping
his rounds in the low 70s. The
opportunity to play college golf
was a goal he set following his
amputation.
“Whenever you can play
sports at the college level, you’re
pretty pleased. But when you
have a disability, it’s a pretty big
deal,” Grossnicklaus said. “Not
many people make it to the col-
lege level on normal conditions.
I feel like I’ve gone through a lot
in life, and I deserve the oppor-
tunity to golf at the next level. I
couldn’t be any happier to carry
my career on in college.”
Badura has the unfortunate
job of replacing a four-time
state qualifier. It became a real-
ization when he told recruiters
about the steady lefty. Badura
told them Grossnicklaus’ killer
short game, his attention to
detail and his right attitude —
not his prosthetic leg — were
what separated him.
“I think there’s probably
some college coaches out
there going, ‘Oops. I probably
missed one there,’” Badura
said. “I truly think UNK is
getting one of the best kids in
the state of Nebraska.”
email to: connor.o’gara@kearneyhub.com
KearneyHub
Connor O’Gara
SPORTS REPORTER
ABOUT ME:
Hi I’m Connor.
I’m a Chicago suburbs native with
a passion for all things Chicago
sports and food.
I’m a Hub SportsWriter. I cover
Central Nebraska preps, the
Tri-City Storm of the USHL, UNL
football games, as well as provide
secondary coverage for UNK. I
design pages, operate the Hub
sportsTwitter account and host our
weekly preps video, “Sports Hub”.
Follow me onTwitter @cjogara
for the latest sports news!
KearneyHub.com
13 EAST 22ND ST. • DOWNTOWN KEARNEY • 308.237.2152 • 1.800.950.6113
Open
24 Hours
KWIk STop
• Daily Happy Hour •
(Special Price on 32 oz. fountain drinks )
7-9 a.m. and 3-5 p.m.
• 100% Arabica Coffee & Gourmet Cappuccino
• Check out our Daily Specials
on Pop & Beer
• Breakfast
Sandwiches and Burritos
• Sheboygan Roller Grill Dogs
• Money Orders
Two Kearney Locations
Kwik Stop #15
1206 W. 24th
338-8762
Kwik Stop #19
3912 17th Ave.
234-6345
Just across the
street south from UNK
Previously C-Store #1
3920 2nd Ave. • Kearney, NE • familyfreshmarket.com
5% DISCOUNT*
When You Show Your UNK or CCC
Student or Employee I.D.
*NO ALCOHOL, TOBACCO OR LOTTO
Never give up
Grossnicklaus overcomes losing leg to become UNK golfer
UNK
Today
:
Loper Lineup
Connor O’Gara, Kearney Hub
LUCAS GROSSNICKLAUS
of Aurora, a University of Nebraska at Kearney golf recruit, has lived
with an artificial right leg since the seventh grade. He tied for sixth in the Class B state tournament
this spring and has been on the leaderboard at the Nebraska Amateur and Junior Amateur tourna-
ments this summer.
CLASSIFIEDS
Find a home, appliance, job or pet in the Hub’s
UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE COMPLETION
t #VTJOFTT "ENJOJTUSBUJPO
t $SJNJOBM +VTUJDF
t &BSMZ $IJMEIPPE
t 4PDJPMPHZ
t 0SHBOJ[BUJPOBM 3FMBUJPOBM $PNNVOJDBUJPO
ENDORSEMENTS
t &OHMJTI BT B 4FDPOE -BOHVBHF
t (JGUFE &EVDBUJPO
t .JME .PEFSBUF , PS
t 4DIPPM -JCSBSJBO
t %SJWFS &EVDBUJPO
EBZT PO DBNQVT SFRVJSFE
t 7PDBUJPOBM %JWFSTJmFE 0DDVQBUJPOT
OTHER COURSEWORK AVAILABLE
t 1PTU .BTUFS T $PVSTFXPSL
t 5SBOTJUJPOBM $FSUJmDBUJPO 1SPHSBN
t 1SF 4QFFDI -BOHVBHF 1BUIPMPHZ
Online Courses
&Programs
The University of Nebraska is an affirmative action/equal opportunity institution.
To get started visit
ecampus.unk.edu
GRADUATE DEGREE AREAS
t "SU &EVDBUJPO
t #JPMPHZ
t $VSSJDVMVN *OTUSVDUJPO
t &EVDBUJPO "ENJOJTUSBUJPO
t *OTUSVDUJPOBM5FDIOPMPHZ
t )JTUPSZ
t .VTJD &EVDBUJPO
t 1IZTJDBM &EVDBUJPO
t 3FBEJOH 1,
t 4DJFODF .BUI &EVDBUJPO
t 4QBOJTI &EVDBUJPO
t 4QFDJBM &EVDBUJPO
Classes begin August 25
e
CAMPUS
"$$3&%*5&% 0/-*/& &9$&--&/$&
R
V
I
A
T
I
VE
S
E
C
E
S
P
R
O
O
F
#
3
0
7
-
0
2
-
1
4
C
REA
T I
V
E
S
E
R
V
I
C
E
S
P
R
O
OF
#
3
0
7
-
0
2
-
1 4
1...,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23 25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,...66
Powered by FlippingBook