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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Sports >  High school sports

2023 Spring Sports Preview: Lewis and Clark sophomore Amanda Nguyen finds success on and off golf course

Amanda Nguyen, a golfer at Lewis and Clark High School, poses for a photo last week.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
Amanda Nguyen, a golfer at Lewis and Clark High School, poses for a photo last week. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo
By Molly Wisor The Spokesman-Review

Amanda Nguyen first picked up a golf club when she was 3 years old.

Now at a much-more experienced 15, the Lewis and Clark sophomore already has a ninth-place individual finish at the state championships under her belt.

Nguyen’s love for golf began when she took her first trip to a golf store. She still remembers discovering her first set of clubs.

“I saw this little, tiny set of pink clubs, and I just really loved it for some reason,” she said.

For Nguyen, golf began as a family affair. Her older brother, Alexander, was already an experienced golfer by the time she began her career in the sport.

“I would always follow him out to the golf course,” she said.

Eventually, the two began to form a sibling rivalry. Although her brother is eight years her senior, the two would often compete at Indian Canyon, their neighborhood course.

“He and I, we were a bit too competitive,” she said. “Sometimes, we would go out and have a little bit of an argument on the course, and then we’d come home to a very awkward family dinner.”

At Indian Canyon, Nguyen met Michelle Grafos for the first time. Nguyen took her first golf lessons from Grafos, the head coach of the girls golf team at Lewis and Clark. As Nguyen’s skills developed, she moved on to different coaches.

“I got a chance to see her family every so often at the golf tournaments for her brother,” Grafos said.

Grafos begins her 18th season with the Tigers and has coached three individual state champs, with one team title and nine Greater Spokane League championships.

“She was doing her thing, I was watching, following her success in summer tournaments and things like that,” Grafos said. “To have her play for me, it’s just been really fun.”

But golf isn’t the only place that Nguyen has seen success. She started playing the piano and violin at a young age, too.

Recently, Nguyen won the Spokane Youth Symphony’s Concerto Competition and Sunday she’s playing in a concerto in the Martin Woldson theater at the Fox with accompaniment from the Spokane Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Her demanding practice schedule for both violin and golf, coupled with volunteering for Key Club and the National Honors Society and a course load filled with honors and AP classes, has proved challenging to navigate. But she has managed to carve out enough time for each of her extracurricular activities.

“I just go with the flow,” she said. “It’s not something that you can really plan out too strictly because there’s just so much going on, especially now that I’m in high school.”

Grafos has been extremely pleased with Nguyen’s ability to make time for golf practice.

“She’s been really good at balancing stuff,” she said. “It becomes challenging with the high-level golf schedule, so I’m just super proud of her and how must she’s participated.”

Golf practice is usually the highlight of Nguyen’s day. Compared to her previous teams, competing with Lewis and Clark has been the most relaxing and enjoyable experience yet.

“Coming to LC and joining the golf team, it’s like a breath of fresh air,” she said. “You have more people you can rely on, and more people who support you.”

Nguyen enjoys the community atmosphere she gets while golfing with her classmates.

“Normally in a golf tournament, it’s just you against everyone else,” she said “But here, there’s so much going on and there’s a lot more people working with you. It’s just a lot more positive environment.”

Last year as a freshman, Nguyen led her team at state. Even though the team struggled with the unfamiliar west side terrain, they managed to finish in fifth place.

“All of the big Seattle schools being there, it was kind of intimidating,” said Nguyen. “But we held our own. I’m very proud of my team and how we pushed through.”

Now, Nguyen’s attention is turned towards the coming season.

“My goal for this season is to go in with a positive mindset and just really put things into perspective,” she said. “I having amazing coaches, amazing teammates and amazing parents, who all support me in what I do.”

Regardless of how this season goes, Nguyen plans to continue playing golf during her next two years at Lewis and Clark.

“It’s not something that can be dropped very easily, so I definitely am going to pursue golf beyond high school,” she said. “I don’t know if I’ll go to college specifically for golf, but I definitely want to follow through with what I have.”

As far as her coach is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether or not her golf career continues past her time at LC.

“I’m just really excited to watch her, whether she stays in golf past high school, or if she just goes on to do amazing things in life,” Grafos said. “It’s just going to be fun to watch her.”

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