International athletes find their way to collegiate sports differently than American athletes. Instead of playing high school sports, they play club sports. And instead of scouts coming to their high school games, they sometimes work with recruiting services.
At least, this was the case with Missouri State senior golfer Verena Gimmy.
Gimmy’s journey to Missouri State began in Germany, where she lived with her parents and brother. As the daughter of two golfers, she began playing when she was 12. Although she noted that she got a bit of a later start than some others her age, nearly half of her life has been spent golfing.
"I knew since I was 14 that I wanted to study in the states,” Gimmy said. “I wanted to experience college sports.”
The university system in Germany is completely different than what’s in the United States.
There’s really no time for students to play sports.
And since Gimmy knew she wanted to further her career as a golfer and also receive an education, she decided to try and find somewhere to play in the States. So, she signed up and began working with a recruiting service.
The recruiting service she used set up a profile for her. It included a video, her tournament dates and scores.
She said that, in a way, she had an agent. The “agent” would reach out to coaches from different schools, and the coaches would look at her profile and decide if they wanted her on their roster.
Among coaches who reached out to Gimmy was Missouri State women’s golf head coach Kevin Kane.
Gimmy and Kane exchanged some emails and video-chatted on skype a time or two. However, there was some miscommunication and a bit of a misunderstanding.
“I couldn’t offer her a scholarship right at the time, but still had a lot of interest,” Kane said. “I think she took it as I wasn’t interested and moved on.”
After a while without communication, Kane reached out once again. Afraid that Gimmy had in fact moved on and found somewhere else, he felt very fortunate to learn she was still searching for somewhere to attend school and play golf.
When Kane reached out that second time, things got rolling pretty quick.
“I just felt like from what I had seen from her results and a swing video that she had ability,” Kane said. “She still had much more potential and lot of room to grow which she has done (at MSU).”
The United States
Adjusting to life in the states, specifically life in the midwest, was different for Gimmy. She had spent all of her life in a large city in Germany.
However her teammates helped her adjust through her years here, especially fellow senior Stine Pettersen. They came to Missouri State at the same time from different countries in Europe and roomed together their first two years.
“The culture and school system are very different from Europe,” Pettersen said. “So having a friend (like Gimmy) by your side, learning the way things work was a plus.”
Learning the ways things work in the states wasn’t the only thing that Gimmy learned. She also learned to have more confidence in herself.
“I think I’ve gotten more confident making bigger decisions,” Gimmy said. “I became more independent.”
For Gimmy, not having her dad at her tournaments was another big adjustment. He had always driven her to her tournaments and watched her compete.
Now, her family can’t really watch her play, tell her what she should improve on or what she did well.
“It was my decision from the beginning, but my dad really encouraged it,” Gimmy said. “He told me I can finish my degree, but I can also improve my golf game.”
Coming to the Midwest and playing collegiate golf have been worth it, according to Gimmy.
Before coming to MSU, Gimmy played for a club team.
She competed in both club tournaments and individually, throughout Germany and even internationally.
In 2012 Gimmy won the under-18 Youth Club Championship and finished 16th in the German National Championship. In the following year, she won the 2013 Ladies Club Championship and 2013 Faldo Series.
At MSU, Gimmy’s success has continued and she’s made a name for herself.
“She’s been a very intrical part of the team since day one,” Kane said.
Her coach speaks highly of Gimmy and her accomplishments as a Bear.
“She’s a three-time all-conference player and has a chance to be a four timer,” Kane said. “That’s really rare; safe to say she’s one of the best that’s ever played here.”
On top of being a three-time all-conference player, Gimmy has won Missouri Valley Conference Golfer of the Week on several occasions. Her sophomore year, she won a spring tournament in Arkansas and last year she tied for second in last year’s conference championship.
“I think she’ll be one of the best players in the league this year, which isn’t new because she has been for the last three years,” Kane said. “But I would expect high finishes in tournaments, and if she gets some breaks — maybe some wins.”
As a teammate, Kane said Gimmy has no troubles communicating. She isn’t afraid to say how she feels, so her teammates usually know how she’s feeling.
“She works really hard for what she wants,” Pettersen said. “She can be pretty stubborn in a good way, and she doesn’t give up before she gets it right.”
But, her emotions don’t prevent her from being a good leader — which is something she’s striving for as an upperclassman on the team this year. Her teammates admire who she is as both a teammate and friend.
“She’s setting a good example and I hope people are paying attention,” Kane said.