By Susan Jenior
Every athlete knows the importance of the phrase, “I made it to state.”
The OHSAA state tournament in any sport means the athlete reached the pinnacle. They advanced as far as they could during their season.
Taylor Blazek, a junior on the Southeast Pirates golf team has made it to state and she is the first one to advance that far in her sport for her school.
Making it to state and making history at the same time is a moment that Blazek will always remember.
“I knew I could do it,” said Blazek. “I worked throughout the winter with my dad and, when I got to districts, he said, ‘You got this,’ when I went off the first tee.”
Blazek, playing in the Division II girls district with the Pirates, thought she had blown it after a few holes on the back nine.
But she didn’t.
In fact, the entire Southeast team only missed advancing to the OHSAA Division II State Tournament in Columbus by a few strokes.
Blazek grabbed the third of three individual-qualifying spots by carding a 78 on the fairways of Good Park Golf Course in Akron.
Blazek’s parents own Lakeside Golf Course in Lake Milton so most golfers would think she has been playing the game for years.
“As a kid, I thought I was too cool to play golf, but I love it now,” said Blazek, who started seriously playing golf in eighth grade.
“I played with my family and chipped and putt with my dad. We would go out everyday,” the state qualifier continued. “I love golf now.”
Blazek works at the family golf course she loves, learning this summer to mow fairways, approaches and tees. Blazek would work in the morning and then hit golf balls.
Every athlete needs goals and Blazek is no different.
“I had five goals this season,” said Blazek, who shared her goals with her cousin Wyatt.
“I wanted to shoot a 36 par, go to the state tournament, win the Lake Club tournament and earn Player of the Year for the conference,” she explained.
She accomplished all of her goals except for winning the Lake Club high school tournament in Warren, when she had to withdraw because of illness.
Knowing what you need to do to improve your game is important.
“I try to play every day, chipping and putting, work on technique,” said Blazek. “In mid-season, I was so upset that ‘Fez’ told me to take a break for the weekend. She was right, I came back and shot a 35 for nine holes.”
“Fez” is the affectionate name the athletes call their coach, Cindy Fesemyer. It is the name that athletes called Fesemyer during her successful days coaching track and basketball. It is a natural for the golfers to continue the tradition.
Taylor is the daughter of Mitch Blazek and Becky Blazek.
“My mom doesn’t know how to play golf, but she comes to my matches,” said Blazek.
Her support system includes her previously mentioned cousin Wyatt, who also took her to Punderson for a practice round together prior to the Division II sectional.
“I have to thank my coaches, Fez and Joe Pinti, and also Jessi Mix, a member of the Lady Pirates team. Jessi came to all the practices with me,” explained Taylor.
“I cried a lot at the end of the district tournament,” said Mix. “I was sad the season was over for our team, but I was happy for Taylor,” said Mix. “I hugged her when I knew she was advancing to the state. I was proud of her because she worked so hard.”
Her dad’s cousin, Michael Mudrinich, flew in from California to attend a cousin’s wedding, but also to watch Taylor at districts and is extending his stay through the state tournament.
Blazek’s grandma, Joan Blazek of Berlin Center, walked the entire district course to watch me.
In addition, Nick Householder of Jackson-Milton, works at her parents golf course and took her golfing the last few summers.
“It helped fine tune my game,” said Blazek.
Taylor Blazek spent her first years of school attending Jackson-Milton.
“I moved to play at Southeast because Jackson-Milton didn’t have a girls team,” said Blazek.
“When I wanted to go to Southeast, Fez showed up at Lakeside (her parents’ golf course) and took me to play Olde Dutch Mill (Southeast’s home golf course in Lake Milton). We played golf together and everyone welcomed me with open arms,” explained Blazek.
“I want to win,” said Blazek. “I always want to win. I hate to lose. I am going to state with that mindset.
“I am usually pretty calm,” the state qualifier explained. “If I mess up, I’m not good to myself going to the next hole, but I think it through and think about what I could have done better.”
“I played a few tournaments this summer and I changed my swing a lot,” said Blazek.
Her best 18-hole round this season was at the PTC championships at Sable Creek Golf Club in Hartville.
“I was proud that our team won the PTC Championship,” said Blazek.
For her coach, it is nice to see hard work pay off at the end of the day.
“I know how much time she puts into her game,” said Fesemyer. “And it is nice to see someone break the ice to go to the state tournament after many years of advancing to Districts for the team.”
“I am excited the direction the program is going,” said Fesemyer.
“I appreciate the dedication that Taylor brings to the game,” said Pinti. “It was total dedication at her end as she hit bucket after bucket of balls.”
Taylor Blazek tees off this morning on the Ohio State University Gray Course in Columbus. Her tee time is 10:50 a.m. off Hole 10.
She competes today and Saturday, 18-holes each day, in straight stroke-play with awards and all-state teams announced at the conclusion of the 18-hole round on Saturday.