Her eyes are wide. Her smile is bright. Kelli Oride, 16, of Lihue, Hawaii, is living her dream. “I’m excited,” she said. “I’m excited because I just won, and I’m here, and this is my first USGA championship and I’m working to accomplish my goals.”
Oride had just walked in after defeating Shamira Marshall of Macedonia, Ohio. She didn’t have far to walk. It was a good, tight match and Oride won on the 17th green, 2 and 1.
Oride played quite well and was the equivalent of three over par for the match but the other element of excitement is that she’s just a few hundred yards from her heart’s desire – The University of Notre Dame. Just over the horizon the spires of the university rise into the sky and for Oride, an incoming senior at Kauai High School, Notre Dame is where she wants to go to college.
“I made a few informal visits here,” she said. “I wanted the academics and the golf. That was important to me. So, when I visited schools, that was what I was looking for.
“I knew from the moment I got here that this was where I wanted to continue my education.”
Oride’s father is an eye doctor and her mother helps with his practice. She has a 4.0 grade point average. Combined with her fine golf game, she would no doubt be welcomed at any school she chooses. But she chose Notre Dame.
“A lot of my friends want to stay on the West Coast to be closer to home,” said the Hawaii resident, “but you’re never going to have the opportunity to live your life in a new environment if you don’t choose a school further away.”
Oride plans to study business wherever she goes to school. It just interests her more than other fields of study. Golf is important too and she plays in Hawaii junior tournaments, recently finishing second in the Hawaii State High School Championship. In the summer she comes to the mainland to play in other events.
She’s been successful on the golf course and off. Oride won a number of junior tournaments and was honorable mention for 2009 Rolex All-American honors. She was on the 2009 Scholastic Junior All-American team and won the 2010 Hawaii Leadership Essay Contest. For that last one, she was made Mayor for a Day.
Right now her future is bright and Oride is on top of the world – a national championship, a match-play win, and Notre Dame right next door. – Rhonda Glenn