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"Stronger"

Freshman golfer sees success in tournament travels

By: Christina De Nicola // Assistant Sports Editor

Issue date: 7/8/08 Section: Sports
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It is the 18th hole at the 2007 Wildcat Invitational at the University Club of Kentucky. Kanye West's "Stronger" is stuck in the head of a certain 92-pound freshman from Pinole, Calif.

"I had no idea until tournaments that it was common in golfers to have a song stuck in our heads," Christina Hirano said. "I usually don't know the lyrics, so I just say two words of it over and over again."

Hirano would go on to finish tied for 11th with fellow University of Miami women's golfer senior Jessica Steward, at a course that reminded her of all that California embodies, especially its gorgeous weather.

Ten years ago Hirano first picked up a golf club, alongside her younger sister Jennifer, when her grandfather took the two of them to a golf course. She immediately fell in love with the sport.

As a child, she was a dancer and now credits the techniques she learned in the studio to helping her with both rhythm and balance on the course.

How did a girl from California end up 3,000 miles east at the University of Miami?

"I love the weather and humidity. I don't care for dry heat. The golf courses are really nice," she said.

Hirano only played one year of high school golf, instead focusing on traveling through the United States and Europe to play events.

Since she missed a lot of school while competing, she perfected the craft of time management and organization.

She is also a girl who does not like to party and, instead, likes to read Harry Potter (she cried at the end of the series) and Dr. Bob Rotella's Golf is a Game of Confidence - a book that preaches being in the mind of the game and not allowing distractions.

"So far I am happy with what I have accomplished, but to be truthful to myself, I have not played up to my full potential yet, so I can't really be too proud or ecstatic with my scores," Hirano said. "I hope that in the upcoming events I will be able to show how I really play with improvement."

Hirano did just that, as she continued to improve throughout the fall and spring season, culminating in a 15th-place finish at the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Golf Championship.

Some of the credit for Hirano's continued development and improvement goes to her head coach, Lela Cannon.

"The fact that Head Coach [Lela Cannon] is a psychology major has really helped," she said. "When I'm on the course and I have a bad hole, she's always telling us, 'Don't let the hole get you down, stay patient and let it happen and don't let yourself get in the way.'"

Hirano's sister Jennifer, a senior in high school, seems to be headed to Miami to play for the golf team as well. The current UM athlete's only comment as to whether the two could be the next sister duo wreaking havoc on their competition: "Hopefully."

Besides golf, Hirano has a love for music. If one happens to hear piano chords coming from the Mahoney/Pearson Residential College, Hirano is teaching herself to play the piano by ear. She has gone as far as moving her desk out of her room and placing a piano in its spot. If you're swinging by, don't hesitate to ask her to play something for you; just don't ask her to sing, she said, because mirrors and glasses are sure to break.

Asked about her plans for the future, Hirano said, "My first goal is to see if I can turn professional, and if not, see if I can do something in the golf world."

With the star starting to shine bright, it seems Christina Hirano might not have to fall back on her career as a musician after all.

Christina De Nicola may be contacted at c.denicola@umiami.edu.
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