Mead force with club(s)

It’s common for the best athletes on a high school team to receive attention from college programs.

Boulder City senior golfer Indiana Mead had to take a slightly different route to a Division I scholarship, though.

The Eagles’ No. 1 girls golfer and the top returner from last year’s Class 3A state meet, Mead has committed to UC Santa Barbara — to play soccer.

The 17-year-old standout golfer played on Boulder City’s varsity soccer squad as a freshman but also played for her club team, Neusport FC. Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association regulations allowed players to play in only 18 matches and two tournaments at the time, and Mead’s participation in a full season with both teams would have totaled too many matches in one season.

“She had a decision she had to make: stay with the high school team or play with the club,” said Regina Quintero, Boulder City’s girls golf coach and athletic director. “She was on one of those elite teams — they travel all over the world — so (choosing club soccer over high school) was probably the best decision for her.”

The decision also allowed Mead, an avid golfer who averages 82 strokes in 18 holes, to play another sport she loves.

“I thought about playing golf, but I would have never switched to it, because playing soccer for the school was so much fun,” said Mead, who played midfield on Boulder City’s varsity squad. “It kind of worked out better. Everything happens for a reason.”

The Eagles soccer team’s loss, though, was a gain for their golf team.

“It’s always nice to have somebody like Indiana …” Quintero said. “She won our coaches’ award as a sophomore, because she’s willing to do the things that it takes to get better, and it’s always nice to get a kid like that, and it makes it even better if they are your No. 1 or No. 2.”

Mead also has excelled at Neusport, with the U.S. under-15 national team and in the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program. And that’s how the Gauchos found Mead, a four-star recruit who has flourished in Neusport’s 4-5-1 formation for her ability to play both ends of the pitch.

Although she admits UC Santa Barbera’s location also had an impact on her decision.

“If you just go to the campus, you fall in love with it,” Mead said. “It’s right on the beach, and I’ve always been a beach person. I want to go into marine biology, because I love science and the ocean — that was a big thing. It was perfect for me.

“Everything about Santa Barbara pretty much fits who I am.”

In her first year on the golf team, Mead placed seventh at state — one of four Eagles in the top 10 — to help Boulder City to a state championship.

“I would have liked to have supported my school more because soccer is my main sport,” Mead said. “To not be able to play it and to wear my school’s jersey the last three years, it kind of sucked … But then the next year, we won state in golf, so it worked out. I still got a state ring.”

As a junior, Mead placed second at state, firing a two-day 181 — 16 strokes better than her score at the previous state meet.

Despite her finish, and the sixth- and seventh-place finishes by teammates Bree Morang and Bridget Ward, respectively, the Eagles did not qualify as a team for the state meet. And while Mead hopes to improve on last year’s finish, adding another team title is more important to her.

“We have a great team this year; they’re awesome,” she said. “If we put it together, we have a great chance of winning state.

“A lot of my competition comes from my team, but I would love to take state. It’s what I’m working for. But my main goal in golf is to be consistent, to know where every shot is going to go. That will lead to the lower scores.”

Boulder City fields a team of only five golfers this season. But what the Eagles lack in depth, they make up in talent. In Wednesday’s Southeast League meet, Mead finished fifth behind a field that included defending 4A state champion Alex Kaui of Green Valley.

“If we can keep improving, take a couple of strokes off every time we play a match, I expect us to be right there,” Quintero said. “Nobody’s going to hand it to us, but I expect our team to have a pretty good showing.

“This team is fun. They work hard, but there aren’t too many other worries from my end in eligibility, grades, behavior; that’s always nice, too.”