The Baumgarts' excellence fosters a sibling rivalry

Brother and sister Ryan and Emily Baumgart bring their love of golf to the links as they lead the DeSales Irish.

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Baugarts golf-- Emily and Ryan Baumgart a sister and brother who are on the Desales golf team together. 3/29/12

WALLA WALLA - Kristy Richard and Brad Baumgart had a dilemma that many parents face.

How to ensure that their children, Ryan and Emily Baumgart, both golfers at DeSales this season, truly enjoyed their sport of choice.

Brad had found a passion for the links when he was at Columbia Basin College and golfed for Central Washington University when he transferred there.

As a result, Ryan, then Emily, grew up around the sport and ultimately started playing for fun, then competitively.

Brad coached Ryan until he was 10, when he said the youngster started to outgrow his coaching abilities.

"We have videos of Ryan when he was a year old and carrying around three or four golf clubs," Richard said. "I have videos of him when he was about 3 years old hitting golf balls at the driving range."

So the parents found a surprisingly simple litmus test for the budding linksters - make them pay for half of all of their lessons and equipment.

If Ryan and Emily's hearts weren't in the sport, then they wouldn't want to work for it.

"The fact that if they want something, they have to work for it. They have to earn it," Richard said. "That way we know that it is something that they enjoy, and they want to do it."

Ryan, now 17, started working at their aunt and uncle's drive-in movie theatre in Milton-Freewater when he was 11, shortly before his parents came up with the idea.

Emily, 14, didn't start golfing competitively until she turned 11, and is just now starting to pay for lessons, although she had been helping with her equipment.

Six years later, that idea has paid off.

"That's been pretty helpful," Brad said. "Now, all of the suddden, they don't lose so many clubs and they take the lessons more seriously, so that's been a good move."

Ryan won the 2011 Washington Class B individual state championship as a DeSales sophomore - all while working for Wine Valley Golf Course in the cart barn - and Emily has taken over the top spot on the girls' side for DeSales in her first year of eligibility as an eighth-grader.

Ryan has already started to get interest from college coaches, including Whitworth, Notre Dame and San Diego, although his dream would be to golf for the University of Washington.

"Their golf team is really good," Ryan, who was a Washington State fan as a youth, said. "There's been a lot of local kids that have gone; they're really good and they play good courses - and I like the purple and gold. They're my No. 1 goal, but it's going to take some work and having some good finishes in tournaments over the summer."

Both Ryan and his golf coach at Wine Valley, John Thorsnes, agree that he has the physical tools to make it to the next level, but now he needs to focus on the mental aspect of the game.

"Younger athletes, to make that next step into the elite range, they've got to have that mental toughness," Thorsnes said. "I think Ryan's capable of doing it, he's just got to go out and do it."

Emily, on the other hand, has only been golfing competitively since she was 11, but has shown just as much potential as Ryan, Thorsnes said.

"I would compare her very much to Lindsey Morgan (who won consecutive state championships for Wa-Hi and played at Washington)," Thorsnes said of Emily. "I coached Lindsey for a few years and she (Emily) definitely has that kind of potential."

For her part, Emily said she did want to play at the college level but, with four years to go before she even finishes high school, she wasn't too concerned about it.

"I'd like to, it would be fun to go to college for (golf), but it's not going to ruin me for life if I don't," she said, laughing.

For Ryan, this spring and summer is crucial for his hopes of playing in college, but he tries to avoid the pressure.

"I feel like I haven't played up to my full potential yet," Ryan said. "(Thorsnes) always jokes that I need to get out of my way and stop thinking so much. For this summer, I just want to keep working on the things I've been working on. Just relax and start focusing a lot more on the process."

Although not meeting his own standard of being at or below par, Ryan has medaled in two of DeSales' meets this season and came in second at the Wildhorse Invite on Monday.

Emily medaled at Wildhorse and DeSales' other two meets.

She isn't opposed to the idea of a sibling rivalry.

"(I'm in his shadow) a little bit, especially with him winning state last year," Emily said. "But I have five opportunities to do that and he only had four. I have a couple more chances to tie him."

It should go without saying, but the siblings' success has been fun for their mother to watch.

"It's fun to watch; it's even better to see them succeeding in school and having a good high school experience," Richard said. "I really think that golf has helped them be all-around good people, and as a parent, that's what you want your kids to be and be known for.

"When you hear that they are good people and nice kids, that beats anything."

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