April 9, 2008
by Jeff Smith
Katie Trachok has a unique mindset when she steps on the first tee. She actually wants to be beaten. Not by the field or by a handful of players, but by one person. The Northwestern senior admits that each time out in a tournament, she wants her sister, Megan, to perform better than her.
"I am more nervous for her and I want her to beat me," Katie said. "I can't say that for anyone else in the world."
Both Katie and Megan insist there is no sibling rivalry between the two and the sisters have always been close since growing up and playing golf in Pittsburgh, Pa. Katie, a fourth-year lineup regular who is serving as the team captain this season, says her feelings stem from being in the twilight of her collegiate career.
"We are just at different points in our life right now as far as maturity," she said. "I think Megan will continue to get better. I don't think she gets nervous for me."
The younger Trachok tells a slightly different story.
"I have a lot of confidence in Katie because she is very calm," Megan said. "I'm not necessarily worried for her if she gets in trouble, but if she is in contention to win a tournament, I'm biting my nails."
This past fall at the Challenge at Wolfdancer, Katie was in contention after a career-best 3-under-par 69 in the second round. She went on to place sixth in the event, also a personal best. So far this spring she has placed in the top 50 in each of her four events.
Megan did not see any tournament action as a freshman, but competed in the season-opening Lady Northern at Penn State this past fall. She finished the event with a 54-hole total of 247, which included a low round of 75.
The Lady Northern was a special event for the two sisters as both were in the lineup for the Wildcats. It marked the first time the two had played together in college and reminded both of their playing days growing up in Pennsylvania. It was not uncommon to see the two Trachok sisters competing together in summer tournaments or in the two years they had together at Upper St. Clair High School.
The time spent in Evanston has been extra special though. While the two sisters do not live together on campus, they often ride with one another to practice, have dinner after, and have even taken the same classes together.
"Just about every quarter we have taken a class together," Megan said. "It's nice because you always have a friend to sit and study with, and I think we have actually done better in those classes than ones we have been in alone."
She goes on to say that Northwestern was always the pick for her because she had two years of learning about the school and the golf team when Katie was on campus. She admits that was a "big part" in her decision to come to Evanston.
It was also a decision that pleased parents Kerry and Marianne Trachok. Now both could to travel to just one place, be it Northwestern or a tournament, and see both daughters. Kerry got both of his daughters started in the game when they were young, cutting down some of his old clubs to fit them. While Katie admits that the real reason she followed her dad around the golf course was to drive the cart, she was hooked on the game almost immediately and was playing in tournaments by age 10. Shortly thereafter, Megan followed suit, just as she did years later at the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) Championship.
As a senior, Katie captured the 2003 individual state championship and was followed by Megan one year later as she won the 2004 event.
"She has always followed in my footsteps," Katie said. "I have sort of taken on the motherly role and looked out for her."
Perhaps what is most advantageous for the two is the fact that since they have played together for so long, they both equally understand the other's game and golf swing. Should one struggle with her swing, the other has been there to offer an opinion.
"It's nice because she is my biggest fan," Megan said. "We are really supportive of one another. She is really helpful in practice in drills, we play games together, and a lot of times if I am working on my swing, its nice to have another set of eyes watching,"
Katie says it is an advantage having a sister on the team because beyond the typical team bond often found with teammates, she knows Megan will always be there to support her.
"She'll always be there for me. She is really familiar with my game and my swing, so it's nice to lean on her for motivation."
Later this month both sisters will be motivated to qualify for Northwestern's six-person lineup for the Big Ten Championships. The tournament, just like the Lady Northern, will be held at Penn State and the two would love nothing more than to finish out the season playing together near their hometown.
"It's really interesting," said Katie of the chance to conclude her golf career near home. "I feel like I have almost come full circle."
Both Trachoks are accustomed with the Penn State Blue course, site of many junior tournaments in which both have played.
"We are really familiar with Penn State and the area," Megan said. "We have played that course several times and it will be nice to have our parents come watch us play."
The tournament will be bittersweet for Megan as she knows that her competitive playing days with her sister are coming to an end. No longer will there be junior tournaments, high school golf, or practices at Northwestern. She admits the thought of that is still sad for her, but says the feeling is a little different now than how she felt as a sophomore in high school.
"It was sad in high school, but I always knew we were going to have college golf."
Now she just hopes that Katie, a communication studies major, will remain in Chicago following graduation. Regardless of her plans, the eldest Trachok says she will always be there for her sister, looking out for her in that motherly role and wishing her the best.
Just as she does on the first tee.