NIU's Harteneck uses golf to deal with tragedy

By Ben Pherson

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Lake City (Lincoln) graduate Devon Harteneck is a member of the women’s golf team at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb.

As if being a freshman wasn’t already hard enough, Harteneck was forced to deal with the tragedy that struck the NIU campus in February, when a gunman shot and killed five people before taking his own life.

While in high school at Lake City, Harteneck was a two-time all-state selection, finishing fourth and fifth at the Class A state meet.


Harteneck has had some good and some not so good rounds during her freshman season. But nothing compares to what she’s had to deal with off the golf course.

Where were you when you learned about the shootings?

Harteneck: I was supposed to be in that area (of campus) because I was going to be signing up for some classes. But we had just gotten a new assistant coach, so I was meeting with her in another building on campus. So I wasn’t close at the time, but if I wasn’t in the meeting, I would have been walking right through that area. When I was in the meeting with coach, the other freshman who travels with the team called me to ask if I’d heard about it. Then my roommate sent me a text.

Were you locked down inside the building?

Harteneck: Yeah, I didn’t get out of the building until about 5 p.m. (the shooting occurred at 3:06 p.m.) We couldn’t send text messages after a while, and people couldn’t get calls in or out.

When were you able to reach your family to tell them you were OK?

Harteneck: Well, the phones were jammed up until almost 7 p.m., but I was finally able to get through a little before that, about 6:30ish.

How have you dealt with the tragedy? And is it something you’re trying to forget or you never want to forget?


Harteneck: A little of both. You try to get it off your mind, but it’s tough. Right after it happened, we had a golf trip to Florida. When we got off the plane, two ladies came up to me and the other freshman who travels and gave us both big hugs. And Cleveland State made us ribbons. They’re nice gestures, but it keeps reminding you what happened, and you’re trying to kind of move on. We had another bomb threat here on campus the other day, and that again just kind of keeps re-hashing what happened here. Golf has helped me deal with it, especially right after. It lets you take your mind off things at least for a little while.

Has the experience made you stronger?

Harteneck: I think it has. It’s just something I can say I went through. It kind of puts things in perspective.

So how’s your golf game?

Harteneck: I’m struggling to find my swing a little bit right now. I’ve learned a lot. I know that the big key is the chipping and the putting. It doesn’t matter how far you hit it in the college game.

You played all four events in the fall, and now you’ve been in and out of the lineup this spring. Are you feeling more pressure in college golf than you did in high school golf?

Harteneck: I think for me personally there is more pressure, especially because I came from a smaller school. Plus, now there are 12 girls on the team. We have qualify for every tournament, so if you don’t play well, you’re not going to have a spot. It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s a good thing.

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