KEARNEY — Nia Station has golfed since she was 3 years old.
She said she enjoys the mental side of the game, but the competitiveness caused her to lose passion as the years went on. It was one of the reasons she almost didn’t golf collegiately.
Station was set on ending her competitive career after her senior year at Omaha Burke in 2017. But Alabama State coach Gary Grandison persuaded her to relocate to Montgomery, Ala., to compete at the Division I level. Station gave in to the request, but once she was in the program, it wasn’t what she expected, she said.
She didn’t like Grandison’s coaching style and opted to transfer to the University of Nebraska at Kearney after her freshman year. Her arrival was instrumental in the Lopers’ success last season. She was the team’s top golfer and was a key component as the Lopers qualified for their third consecutive NCAA Tournament.
“For me, I just put forward my best effort,” Station said. “It doesn’t feel like it was anything too special, but obviously there was improvement as the season went on. Especially being in a better coaching environment, my mentality got better while I was playing. Just having more purpose while playing the game definitely helped too.”
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Station won two Nebraska high school girls golf state championships and placed second her other two years. She’s the first-ever African American in Nebraska history to win a high school state golf title, according to African American Golfer’s Digest.
Station’s interest and eventual love of golf came from her father, Larry.
Station said her father didn’t have a strong knowledge of golf but it was a game he believed she could play her entire life.
Her father has a rich history in athletics.
He was a standout football and track athlete at Omaha Central and went on to play linebacker at Iowa. He is the Hawkeyes’ all-time leader in tackles and was named a consensus first-team All-American twice in his college career.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
Nia has leaned on her father for advice throughout her athletic career and credits him for instilling her with a strong work ethic.
“He’s always said that if you put in enough work and outwork your opponent, no one is going to be able to beat you,” she said. “If you put in enough time, you’re going to be able to master that skill and that will put you at an advantage.”
In her lone season at Alabama State, Station posted an 80.37 stroke average to earn the Southwestern Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year award.
After the completion of her freshman season, Station sought a new opportunity. She wanted to be closer to home and to participate in a program with a different atmosphere.
She reached out to UNK coach Shawn Rodehorst. She was open with Rodehorst on why she wanted to transfer and what she was looking for in a program.
Rodehorst extended Station an opportunity to join the program. The addition of Station made a difference for the Lopers, as they qualified for their third straight NCAA tournament and posted the lowest team stroke total in program history.
Station was UNK’s top golfer with a 78.19 stroke average, which is the best single-season mark in program history. She finished tied for 41st at the NCAA regional with a three-round total of 239. Her success as a sophomore led her to make the second-team All-MIAA list.
With two years of eligibility remaining Rodehorst believes Station has the ability to be one of the top golfers in the MIAA.
“There are some days where you can tell that maybe she has something else on her mind, which is very common for any student-athlete,” Rodehorst said. “If she brings a consistent effort and attitude every day, then there’s really no limit to what she can accomplish.”