Rachel Kuehn is a sophomore from Asheville, N.C., and a member of the Women’s Golf Team here at Wake Forest. She is planning on majoring in business and enterprise management.
She also has strong ties to the Demon Deacons program, as her mother, Brenda Corrie Kuehn, attended the university and was a member of the women’s team between 1984 and 1986. Ms. Kuehn set the bar high for her daughter, over the course of those three seasons, her performances landed her in the Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame.
During the shortened season last year, Kuehn proved that she has the aptitude to fill those large shoes. She played in five of the team’s seven events, finishing with a team-best 71.23 stroke average. She also won her first collegiate title at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate event, where she finished with a season-best score (-13). At the end of the season, she was selected to the Arnold Palmer Cup U.S. team and named a member of the WGCA All-American First Team.
Will Zimmerman: How long have you been playing golf? How did you originally get into the sport?
Rachel Kuehn: I’ve been playing golf for 17 years and 12 competitively. I started playing because my mom was, and still is, a great player. She introduced me to golf as something my whole family can do together.
WZ: What was your first year as a member of the golf team like?
RK: My first year was busier than I expected. We wake up for 6:30 workouts, go to class, go to practice, come back and do homework, and repeat it all the next day. I love my team and coaches, though, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
WZ: What did your training look like during the summer, and how was it affected by the pandemic?
RK: I was lucky that my course stayed open throughout the pandemic, I was very fortunate to be able to practice while at home. Unfortunately, almost all of my summer tournaments got canceled so those months mainly consisted of practicing in the hopes that we would have a fall season. Although that didn’t work out, my whole team is trying to stay focused and get ready for the spring season.
WZ: How does your training and preparation this year compare to last year’s in light of the pandemic?
RK: We have to be a lot more cautious in light of COVID. Everyone wears masks when we are inside indoor facilities, including when working out. However, much of the outdoor training has been similar because golf allows you to socially distance while you practice. In general, though, everyone is just a bit more cautious.
WZ: What are your expectations for this upcoming season, on a personal level and team level?
RK: Hopefully, as a team, we can have a chance to compete for an NCAA title. Individually, I would love to have the opportunity to finish in the top 10 as often as possible and be able to put myself in contention with every chance that I get.
WZ: What is the best part about being a member of the women’s golf team?
RK: I think the best part is how competitive we can all be with each other. We push each other to be the best people and players we can be. We make each other better. That has helped us build strong bonds, I have made some of my best friends at Wake Forest from this team.
WZ: Is there someone here who has had a special impact on your time as a student-athlete so far at Wake Forest?
RK: All my relationships with coaches have been so special. One person that immediately comes to mind is my head coach, Kim Lewellen. [Lewellen] is just so encouraging and positive, she brings out the best in each of her players and pushes us to work hard in every aspect of our games. My associate coach, Ryan Potter, has also had a great influence on me and every other member of my team. He keeps us focused and motivated. In general, I feel like I could come to either of them with anything, and that they would be there for me no matter what the situation is. I can be honest and open with them about what is going on in my life and they will both be there. I am so appreciative of them.
WZ: What advice would you give to a younger student-athlete here at Wake Forest about balancing the demands of practice, schoolwork and a social life?
RK: I would say that it is all about prioritizing your values. You have to make decisions about what’s most important, and plan accordingly. There have been times when I can’t go to a certain event or miss a party, but for me, that’s alright. Ultimately, we are all here to enjoy school and get an education.