Battling through adversity

Northridge High School golf coach Ken Brewster and his daughter Ashley, after surviving a tough 2018, have their sites set on reaching the state finals later this year in Carmel.

MIDDLEBURY — Northridge senior golfer Ashley Brewster has experienced pain and joy in her life.

On August 13th, Brewster shot her first hole-in-one in a match against Fairfield and Lakeland at Meadow Valley Golf Course. 

"I had played that hole thousands and thousands of times and it's not my favorite hole on the course," said Brewster. "My mom and one of my best friends told me what had happened. I didn't believe them at first. It was crazy and I was in disbelief. I was coming off my first eagle a couple days before at the State Preview (at Prairie View Golf Course). It was crazy that two great golf events happened so quickly for me."

The ace came on the par 3, 78-yard, No. 8 hole. The club used was Callaway Steelhead XR. Just before that shot, Brewster had double-bogeyed the No. 7 hole.

"I was upset about that," Brewster said about the shot on the seventh hole. "I was just trying for a par on No. 8." 

Ken Brewster, who's Northridge's girls golf coach, along with being Ashley's father, didn't even see the hole-in-one.

"I was on the No. 6 hole helping out our No. 4 player," said the Raiders' coach. "Ashley's mom (Laurie Marks) was calling me on the phone hyperventilating and telling me that Ashley got a hole-in-one. A couple parents from the Fairfield and Lakeland teams were going crazy about it. It was pretty cool. Me and Ashley had a little bet going when it came to who would shoot the first hole-in-one and she won the bet."

A day to remember for Ken and Ashley.

Almost a year earlier, on August 15, 2018, the two had a day to forget. Father and daughter were consoling each other after the passing of Ashley's stepmom. 

"It was a couple weeks into the season and it was the first day of school," Ashley said. "She had struggled with cancer for six years. She couldn't beat that last bout. It was a struggle she had seen for a pretty long time."

Assistant golf coach Rand Schrock took over for Ken Brewster as head coach.

"I pretty much stopped coaching last year," Ken said. "I went to some Saturday matches, but I wasn't at practices. (Ashley) had a little bit tougher time. She was concerned about me and my well being. She's like a 30-year old, 17-year old. She's concerned about life's things."

Ashley also had to deal with her own health issues. At the end of season she came down with a bad case of the flu. She was still sick when she played in the conference tournament

"Not a good day," Ken said about Ashley's time at the conference tournament. 

Being without her father was a difficult adjustment throughout Ashley's junior year. She began playing golf with her dad when she was six years old. Ashley hit golf balls in her backyard with a Barbie set of clubs.

"Ever since I started playing golf I expected my dad to be there for me and give me advice," Ashley said. "He helped me to learn how to get over my mistakes. I'd look over to him and he'd give me a signal on how to improve my mechanics.

"I had a slump in the middle of my junior year and I wasn't shooting well. I got sick towards the end of the conference season. There was a lot going on all at once. Golf is a mental sport to play and it was quite a challenge for me."

Ashley fought through the adversity as a junior and shot an 83 and placed third at the sectional. She followed that up with a high school best score of 80 at the regional, which was just two strokes short of making it to state. Northridge placed fourth at the regional and just missed going to state for the first time in the school's history. The top three teams qualify for state.   

A bad back has slowed Ashley down a bit this season, but she still has an 80 as an 18-hole average. Ashley has been Northridge's No. 2 golfer behind Braedyn O'Dell. O'Dell has qualified for the state finals the first three years of her career.

"The last two weeks have been a little rough with my back, but it's nothing I can't handle," the Raider senior said. "I should be good to go. I didn't play in the Westview match (on August 20th). It's hard to sit out as a senior even for a couple of days."

Ashley also doesn't believe in sitting out when it comes to her life outside of golf.

She's a dedicated student, who ranked third in her class at the beginning of year with a 4.489 grade-point average. Many of the classes she's taken have been advance placement and honors courses. This year, Ashley is taking two college courses at Indiana University at South Bend, two college credit high school classes and a high school honors class. 

On top of those difficult assignments, Ashley is involved with high school theater, a freshman mentoring program, math tutoring, student council, National Honor Society and the German Club.

"I've always had my sights set on going to prestigious schools after high school," Ashley said. "So every time I look at something I have time to do I know that a college will be impressed by that. I'm getting to know so many kids in high school and interact with so many people. I love athletics, academics and the fine arts. It's fun to have variety in your life and not do the same thing every day."

Looking to major in forensic psychology, Ashley is looking at Notre Dame, Stanford and Princeton.

She also has the desire to keep playing golf.

"Until my body breaks down I hope to be on a golf course," Ashley said. "At the Division I schools I'm looking at I hope to play on the JV and work my way up."

She won't forget about the four years she spent with her father playing golf at Northridge.

"I know kids that had parents coach them and it created tension," Ashley said. "It worked out for me and my dad because we enjoy golf and find so much happiness with it."  

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