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Galloway has rediscovered her drive

The ultimate negative thought entered Jacque Galloway’s mind, and for a moment it felt as if it would never escape her.

The Cleveland High School star has always been analytical when it comes to golf, thinking of every possibility before making a decision. But after playing perhaps her worst golf at the 2016 U.S. Girls Junior Championship at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., she thought of quitting the game entirely.

Galloway had experienced great success throughout junior golf competition, but this was some serious adversity. She shot 23-over par 169 after the first two rounds and was nowhere near making the cut for match play. An 8 on the par-4, 374-yard first hole was nightmarish.

“It was just snowballing, and I wasn’t really happy with my game,” said Galloway, 18, who is a rising senior. “I almost quit. We actually drove there (to New Jersey), which kind of gave me a long time to think about it on the way home.”

Galloway knew she need time away from the sport. With daily training and high-level events filling up her summer, she was reaching the point of being burned out.

She took a month off.

“I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go back, especially with high school golf,” said Galloway, a three-time state champion who usually dominates in prep events because there is no one at her level. “It’s not as fun. I feel like I don’t get to push myself as much during those tournaments. I just decided to play for the heck of it, kind of. No expectations. I think I was putting too much pressure on myself to perform. It was always just golf, golf, golf. I’ve made time for other things.”

After the one-month hiatus, Galloway returned with a new love for the game. She carried that through the entire year and again reached the U.S. Girls Junior Championship in 2017.

Things were much different this time at Boone Valley Golf Club in Augusta, Mo. She became the first New Mexican to make the cut at the event since Nancy Lopez, who won the tournament in 1972.

This year, she will play in the U.S. Girls Junior Championship for the fourth time. She won the qualifier June 13 at UNM Championship Golf Course, a six-shot victory against 11 other girls while shooting a 3-under 69.

She wants to make the cut again and earn at least two wins in match play.

The competition always intensifies during the summer for Galloway. Before this year’s U.S. Girls Junior Championship, she will compete in the Girls Junior PGA Championship at Kearney Hill Golf Links in Lexington, Ky., next Monday through Thursday.

From there she will go to Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif., for the U.S. Girls Junior Championship July 16-21.

The following week, it’s off to the Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen, Colo., for the Girls Junior Americas Cup. She is the team captain making her fifth appearance in the event.

To prepare for the grind of three straight weeks of high-level competition Galloway played rounds with boys rather than standard practicing.

She usually plays with her boyfriend, Enrique Armijo, who is also a golf standout for Cleveland. Armijo’s older brother, Alejandro, and their friend and teammate, Lorne Fishburn, also play with them.

“They push me,” Galloway said.

Galloway’s older sister, Dominique, 20, helps balance it all out. Jacque says Dominique plays more with the feel for the game, rather than being a thinker as Jacque is, the younger sister said. Dominique is also calmer and doesn’t become frustrated as easily, Jacque said.

Dominique starred at Cleveland before going to the University of Texas for a semester and transferring to New Mexico State, where she now plays. She will be Jacque’s caddy at the U.S. Girls Junior Championship.

There have been several people who have made an impact on Jacque, but none as meaningful as her sister.

Dominique was first to play golf when she was 7 in the First Tee program introduced to her by Rob Lowry, who at the time was an instructor at Santa Ana Golf Club.

Lowry remembers a shy, 5-year-old Jacque, who hid behind the leg of her dad, John, but still wanted to be like big sister, and hit golf balls.

Soon, she was learning about the game, and getting rewards like a pack of bubble gum if she replaced a divot or raked the bunker after use.

Lowry saw Jacque come out of her shell and build a strong passion for golf.

“Jacque was just a natural,” said Lowry, who left teaching golf to work in transmission repair. “It didn’t take much for her to take off.”

Lowry said the Galloway sisters showed an intense desire to improve and become elite. It wasn’t much different away from the golf course and in the classroom.

Jacque, who carries a 4.1 grade-point average, is enrolled in a two-year college prep program. She was told that she was Cleveland’s first student-athlete in the program.

She puts in nine hours each semester at University of New Mexico, taking classes like calculus and chemistry.

She just might be a sophomore academically when she gets to the University of Iowa in the fall of 2019, but will have four years of eligibility.

Jacque said the importance of academics has always been stressed by her parents. John was a physical education teacher, and his wife, Monica, is also a teacher, a reading specialist.

Jacque said she doesn’t have pro aspirations after college. She does want to win and succeed for her college team.

She said she had a good connection with Iowa coach Megan Menzel, who starred for UNM 1993-97, and assistant coach Michael Roters, who played baseball at New Mexico State.

Jacque said she was also impressed with Iowa’s research hospital.

“I want to go into biomedical engineering, but that could change,” she said.

For now she wants to make the most of her summer, and during her senior year at Cleveland she wants to win a fourth-straight state title.

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