Kelsey Refuses to Give In

Deerfield golfer battles back harder.

After two heart-wrenching setbacks, most people would find a way to quit. But not Deerfield’s Ian Kelsey.

Kelsey, who is now a junior, missed qualifying for the state golf finals the past two years. And last year was the toughest yet, missing the cut by just one stroke.

“It was so close both years,” Kelsey said. “And last year did not sit too well with me at all. Freshman year, I made some mistakes, but sophomore year I lost my swing coming down the stretch.”

Instead of retreating, Kelsey met the issues with his game head on. He went back to his swing coach, Joe Bosco at Glen Club. There, Kelsey spent hours upon hours of working at his game.

“I really worked hard on my game,” Kelsey said.  I am just trying to make sure my swing is consistent and that my swing was in the right position.”

But Kelsey still had to overcome the mental disappointments of the last two seasons.

Deerfield hired Dr. Jeff Fishbein as the new golf coach this year. Fishbein took over for Fred Dickman, who had been at the reins for 35 years and led the Warriors to 8 state finals. Dickman also coached Bennett Lavin, who was second in the state in Class 3A in 2009 and third in 2010.

Besides being a top golfer, Fishbein is also a clinical and sports psychologist. He had an early conversation with Kelsey and the rest of the team.

“I talked to all the kids about what had happened to them in the past,” Dr. Fishbein said. “I told them what had happened was not as important as what can happen in the future. I said that they all needed a fresh start and a clean slate. Where we are headed is right in front of us.”

Armed with sound advice and stronger skills, Kelsey has attacked this season furiously. Kelsey, who is the Warriors number one player, has shot under par five times this year. He has been the medalist in four matches and had has finished third in both the Warren Invitational and the Deerfield Invitational with a 73 in each event.

But the highlight of his season came last week, when he beat Glenbrook North’s Nick Hardy, who is ranked in the top five in the Chicago area, by one stroke in a dual meet. It helped the Warriors beat the Spartans and give them the inside track at the Central Suburban North title.

“I am getting the scores I think I should be getting,” Kelsey said. “I am striking the ball well and my short game has improved.”

“Ian is a smart and steady player,” Fishbein said. “He hits the ball real well and he knows where the ball is going. He has a soft fade game which works well for him. It is a well-controlled golf game.”

With his play, Kelsey has already attracted college scouts who are not only impressed with his play, but his sizzling 4.2 grade point average.

“I know I can play Division 1 golf,” Kelsey said. “But right now I am focused on my game and helping my team make it downstate. That’s the main goal right now.”

Quitters don’t have goals and that’s what sets Kelsey apart from those who abandon their dreams.

“He is a special kid,” Fishbein said. “He has priorities right and is very well-balanced.”

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