As she looked for a home to play college golf, she wanted place that could take Bree Downie out of Hortonville but wouldn’t take Hortonville out of Bree Downie.
“Growing up in the Fox Valley area and living in Hortonville,” Downie said, “I was looking for a school where it felt like home and where I felt like I wasn’t just another number.”
It didn’t take the Polar Bears senior long to decide Winona (Minn.) State was just that school. She announced recently she orally committed to the NCAA Division II Warriors over interest in Division II Southwest Minnesota State and Lindenwood (Missouri) and Division III UW-Oshkosh.
Downie, a WIAA Division 1 regional champion who qualified for the state meet as a junior, is the second Wisconsin golfer to announce her intention to play for Winona State and new coach Xenia Straight, joining Savanna Anderson of Stanley-Boyd. The Warriors, who are picked to finish fourth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, have just five golfers listed on their current roster -- four juniors and one sophomore, all of whom are expected to return for the 2018-19 season.
“When it came to the golf program, what really made my decision was the passion and commitment both Coach Xenia and her husband Jeff (the men’s coach) showed for the team,” Downie wrote. “When I was able to meet the team and see how the players and coaches interacted I was very excited. … I just felt that family atmosphere and fell in love with everything about the school.”
Downie, who tied for 36th at the state meet a year ago after sharing medalist honors with Markie Ash of Waupaca at the regional (83) and finishing second at the sectional (82), is coming off a solid summer on the WPGA Junior Tour. She finished in the top 10 in eight of her 14 starts, winning one-day events at Bulls Eye CC in Wisconsin Rapids (76) and Eagle River GC (82).
This fall, Downie finished fourth at the Seymour Invitational to open the season. She has also helped Hortonville to a 2-3-1 record in Fox Valley Association dual meets.
“My advice to others going through this process is to be patience and trust your intuitions,” she said. “Whenever I spoke to other people, including my parents (and) some coaches, the thing I kept hearing was they all said I’d know right away and I’d feel at home when I found the right fit. I drove home from my visit with Coach Xenia and called her right away to see if she’d still have me as a student athlete.
"The team members I met during my visit had awesome personalities and I felt like I fit in with them from the beginning. I just had a feeling that golf is important, but there was a good balance of golf, school and enjoying the college experience.”