A relationship a little over a year in the making during Kate Meier's recruiting process may one day prove to have done more than lead the Middleton senior to Loyola (Ill.) University and give her a place to play her college golf.
Meier recently gave her oral commitment to Ramblers coach Carly Werwie, making her the second Wisconsin golfer in the last three years to take her talents to Chicago and the first since Werwie — a former University of Wisconsin golfer from Kenosha — became the coach in July of 2018.
Wisconsin promises to be important recruiting territory for Werwie, who spent two years as a volunteer assistant coach at Carthage College after a stint on the Symetra Tour and before making Loyola her first head coaching job. She continues to play in the Wisconsin Women's State Open and was a presence earlier this month at the WIAA state tournament at University Ridge Golf Course, where she watched Meier lead the Cardinals to the Division 1 title.
"Coach and I instantly clicked as she had the qualities and personality I was looking for in a college coach," Meier wrote in an email interview. "She also was a great player in college and has a vast knowledge of the game. I look forward to having her mentor me and ... take my game to the next level."
Meier, ranked No. 4 in Wisconsin's Class of 2020 by Wisconsin.golf, is the fifth golfer in her class to orally commit to an NCAA Division I school, joining co-No. 1s Rachel Kauflin of Wauwatosa East/West (Central Michigan) and Mallory Swartz of Franklin (Bowling Green-Ohio), No. 3 Holly Murphy of Lake Geneva Badger (North Dakota State) and Madison Edgewood's Grace Welch (UW-Green Bay). No. 6 Myranda Kotlowski of Stoughton and No. 7 Meredith Boos of Waukesha Catholic Memorial are likely to join them by or after the Nov. 13 start of the upcoming early signing period for Division I and II-bound golfers.
A four-time WIAA state qualifier, Meier twice finished inside the top 10 — placing fifth as a junior and seventh as a senior. During that time, Middleton twice finished second (2016 and '18) around an eighth-place showing in 2017 before winning the program's third state championship this fall with a 651 winning score, 13 shots better than runner-up Brookfield Central.
In addition, Middleton won the Big Eight Conference championship all four years that Meier was in the lineup. She was the medalist this season.
"While at Middleton, I learned the importance of having a strong work ethic and the value of having a close team," Meier wrote. "This summer, Coach Werwie was able to witness this first-hand when our team attended the (UW) golf camp. She noticed our team's strong chemistry on and off the course, especially when we decorated our teammate's room in celebration of her birthday. The women's golf team at Loyola is very special in regards to it being more of a family rather than a team of individuals, a quality that means the world to me and shows immense strength amongst the team."
Meier, who hopes to study business and marketing in college, said she was also drawn to the location and diversity of Loyola's two distinct campuses.
"The main campus, the 'Lakeshore' campus, is directly on Lake Michigan, and only a short shuttle ride away is their 'Water Tower' campus in the heart of the city," wrote Meier, who will join a roster that includes Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels graduate Lorenza Martinez of Menomonee Falls. "What impressed me the most on my visit was how warm and outgoing all the staff, students and athletes are. There is definitely a strong, supportive and caring culture at Loyola and the golf team exemplifies those qualities loud and clear.
"When I visited campus, I was able to meet some of the players on the team, and it was evident to me that Coach was recruiting and forming a team of genuine, dedicated and talented young women; that made me even more eager to want to be a part of her team at Loyola."
The Ramblers graduate just one golfer off their eight-player roster after this season. Coming out of the fall season, however, none of the five golfers in Loyola's lineup has established themselves as a clear No. 1 with stroke averages ranging from 78.1 (Martinez) to 81.7, suggesting that there will be ample opportunity for Meier to find a home in the lineup next fall.
"I am excited to be a part of this family next year," she wrote. "And (I) look forward to contributing what I have learned my last four years of high school golf being both a teammate and a captain."