Ariel Heuer's life is nothing if not full of options, and spending the next four years at Viterbo University in La Crosse, the Fall Creek senior believes, will give her the best opportunity to take advantage of most of them.
"Viterbo is ... close enough to (Fall Creek) that I could go home on weekends to see my family," Heuer wrote in an email interview with Wisconsin.Golf after recently announcing that she would attend the NAIA school and play golf for coach Ken Barrett. "My sisters play sports and it's important for me to go watch them. One of my best friends is also going to Viterbo and she is playing basketball there. I haven't decided yet, but I might play basketball as well."
That approach, communicated from Barrett throughout the recruiting process, made Viterbo the university that Heuer wanted to attend since her sophomore year. Heuer said she "considered a couple of schools in Florida," but none of them offered nursing, an area of study in which Viterbo has long excelled.
"Viterbo has a great program for nursing," wrote Heuer, who said she was drawn by the "older and unique campus" on La Crosse's southwest side. "The program has awesome simulations to practice nursing on a talking mannequin. The classrooms at Viterbo are set up like a hospital so you can get the best experience you can. They had good stats of people getting into the nursing program as well."
And then there is the golf.
The V-Hawks were to have graduated three golfers after this spring season, which was canceled in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the NAIA — much like the NCAA — has ruled spring sports athletes will not be charged a season of competition and can return during the 2020-21 school year.
Either way, Heuer figures to make an immediate impact on a program that had just three golfers average 85 or less during the 2019-20 season.
She played No. 1 on the Crickets boys team all three years she was in the program, reaching the WIAA Division 3 sectional as a sophomore and a junior. Switching to the girls golf season not only gave Heuer a senior season she would have lost had she kept playing boys golf, but it gave her a chance to excel at the WIAA Division 2 girls state tournament. She shot rounds of 83 and 84 at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison and finished third — nine shots behind Grace Welch, a senior at Madison Edgewood and a UW-Green Bay recruit — while her team finished fourth in its first state appearance since 2014.
"Viterbo was a good choice for me because they have a great staff and cool players," Heuer wrote. "I see myself fitting in well with the girls. I really hope I can help the team out and hopefully our team can go big places. You are expected to work hard and do your best every day.
"One saying the coach always says is 'family then school then golf.' I know that he wants us to do great in golf, but he also understands we have other commitments."