Baranek: The hole story: Makalia Brown is Mother McAuley’s finest golfer
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org February 16, 2014 10:08PM
Mother McAuley golfer Makalia Brown | Tony Baranek/Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 18, 2014 11:37PM
The distance was 30 feet. The slope was steep. Her dad was holding the pin at the top of the hill.
Makalia Brown wasn’t sure she could even get the ball close so that her dad could tap it in.
“When I hit it,” she recalled, “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is too fast.’ ”
But it wasn’t. The ball curved right into the cup. And dad’s reaction was priceless.
“He couldn’t believe it,” she said, laughing. “He kept looking into the hole.”
David Brown doesn’t doubt his daughter very often. He’s seen enough to know that she always finds a way.
Makalia is Mother McAuley’s finest golfer. As a senior she was the team captain and the MVP on a Mighty Macs team that went 11-2 in 2013, and she recently signed a national letter of intent to attend and play at UIC.
“She’s very dedicated. She loves the game of golf,” Mighty Macs golf coach Michele Stepanek said. “She was always the one last to leave practice and was always working on her game.”
Brown also is one of McAuley’s finest students, a four-year honor roll member who is solidly above a 3.0 in advanced and honors classes.
For fun and more challenge, she competes in the shot put and discus for McAuley’s track and field team. As a junior she finished sixth in the GCAC Tournament in the discus.
Could a dad possibly be prouder?
“She’s been gifted,” David said. “When she was 2 years old she was actually spelling her full name. I knew then she was going to be gifted.”
Pride in each other is a mutual feeling.
David was a five-year army veteran from 1988 to ’92 who served on the Desert Storm and Desert Shield missions in the Persian Gulf. He is in his 12th year with the Chicago Police Department, working as a tactical officer in the 3rd District.
He also works with disabled and unemployed army veterans, trying to get them healthier and helping them find opportunities for work.
A single dad, he finds his greatest satisfaction in helping — and watching — his daughter achieve.
“He’s a great inspiration,” Makalia said. “He pushes me past my limits. He pushes me because he knows I have the potential to reach whatever goals I set for myself.
“I might not be the No. 1 golfer in the world at this level, but I also know that I give it my all and I continue to progress and excel.”
Brown picked up her first golf club when she was three. As the story goes, her dad had a spare set of left-handed clubs and Makalia got curious.
“One day I noticed her swinging them in the back yard,” David said. “So I went and got a hacksaw, cut them down and put grips on them.”
She learned the game by playing with her father on the South Shore and Jackson Park courses. By the time she graduated as the class salutatorian from St. Ailbe Catholic School in Chicago, she was confident enough to try out for the golf team at Mother McAuley.
During her freshman and sophomore seasons Brown was on the junior varsity. She started her junior season on the JV but after a few weeks was moved up to the varsity and earned Most Improved Player honors.
“There were a couple of rough patches,” Makalia said. “Golf is a very frustrating sport. There were days when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore. But I don’t have that mentality to quit or give up. It’s just not what I was raised to accept.”