March 18, 2018 | ° F

Rookie adjusts to new school, earns first title

Kortnie Maxoutopoulis, the newest face on the Rutgers women’s golf team, got her start in golf just like any other kid.

But that start took her to a place few freshmen can say they have ever been.

Maxoutopoulis’ family introduced her to the game of golf.

“I started golf when I was about nine or 10, and I was introduced to it by my grandpa and my dad,” she said. “My whole dad’s side of the family plays golf, so we had family golf tournaments and stuff like that.”

But golf was not her only sport growing up in Pleasanton, Calif.

“I played almost every sport, and finally when I was about 11, I got really into golf and started playing tournaments all the time, like all summer long,” she said.

Once she started focusing on golf, Maxoutopoulis began to see a lot of improvement.

By the time she got to high school, she was already a very talented player.

“I played on my high school team, and we really had progressive seasons,” she said. “When I was a senior, we ended up winning the league and sectionals.”

Then, as she neared the end of her high school career, Maxoutopoulis began to look at schools, and did not leave any of them out.

“I first looked in California and the West Coast, and then I decided that there’s so much more to the world than just California, so I started looking outside, out of state,” she said. “I visited over 30 schools.”

The search brought her to the Banks, which impressed her from the start.

On only her second visit to the East Coast, she fell in love with Rutgers.

“It just offered me so much, with a great support system — everything about the school, like the look, the people,” she said.

She enjoyed it so much she decided she wanted to come back again, but at a time that introduced her to something new.

“I decided I wanted to come out during the cold part of the season, so I came in January, and it happened to be in between the two blizzards, so that was a lot of fun,” she said. “But I have yet to see snow fall from the sky.”

Upon her arrival as a freshman, Maxoutopoulis had to go through the learning curve any California native would: She had to adjust to the East Coast.

Immediately, she realized New Jersey was completely different than what she was used to.

“I’m getting acquainted to the culture here, just like terminology and stuff that I’m not used to, like how different people act,” she said. “It’s not anything bad. I’m just taking everything in, and people along the way are helping me with different things.”

For Maxoutopoulis, the change is more than welcome.

“There’s just something about it here, especially with coach [Maura Waters-Ballard], academic support, the athletic support. I just felt that it was a great fit for me,” she said. “When I came here I was just beyond happy with how great everything has been.”

The satisfaction with her new school carried over into her collegiate career, achieving something few freshmen have: She won her very first college tournament.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Maxoutopoulis said. “I just took at as a normal tournament.”

The only distraction she had was a result of Mother Nature.

“The only thing that kind of frazzled me was the thunder. That at least cost me three shots,” she said. “I heard it, didn’t know what to expect, then I hit a ball in the water.”

In the end, the miscue meant nothing as Maxoutopoulis took home the gold, capturing her first title in her first try.

Once she did so, the floodgates opened with flattering messages.

“People were like, ‘Oh my god, I saw you on the website,’ and I’m just like, ‘Thank you,’” she said. “And I’ve been getting a lot of emails like, ‘Great start to your college career,’ and, ‘Good luck with everything.’ People have been really congratulatory.”

Probably the happiest of all were her family and friends back home.

“They were pretty excited,” Maxoutopoulis said. “My dad sent out to everyone, put it in our country club forecaster and everything, and people were just like, ‘Pleasanton is so proud of you.’”

Looking ahead to her next tournament, she is confident that she will keep her nerves in check and keep the solid play going.

After finding a new home on the Banks and teammates she loves, Maxoutopoulis cannot help but get excited about the future.

“I’m just really looking forward to everything with the team,” she said. “I think we really have some amazing stuff ahead of us.”

By Joey Gregory

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