South/East Xtra: Serra sharp-shooter works on 'other' sport

AMATEUR GOLF

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Max Kaminsky sometimes sees a curious look on the faces of people who first learn what sports he competes in.

"People get surprised," Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky, a White Oak resident, plays golf and basketball at Serra Catholic, where he will be a senior this fall. Being a member of both teams isn't a rare feat by any means, but the fact he excels in each sport is what ultimately leads to the look of somewhat disbelief when people find out about it.

"Usually people picture basketball players as guys who hit the gym and work out a lot, kind of hard-nosed guys," said Kaminsky, who is a 5-foot-10 shooting guard. "When I tell them I play golf, they're like, 'Really?' Sometimes basketball games get intense. Golf relaxes me."

Kaminsky is a former WPIAL golf champion. He won the inaugural WPIAL Division II individual championship his freshman year. Kaminsky was also a starting guard as a junior on Serra's basketball team, which made it to the WPIAL playoffs. He averaged 13.5 points per game.

This time of year, golf takes center stage for Kaminsky. He'll compete in about eight tournaments during the summer and estimates he'll play between 60 and 70 rounds before the school year begins.

Two weeks ago, Kaminsky won his first tournament of the summer when he took top honors in the 17-18 year-old division in a Kings Junior tournament at Butler's Golf Course in Elizabeth. Kaminsky shot an even-par 72 to gain the victory.

"I missed some putts, but I played pretty well overall," he said.

It comes as little surprise that Kaminsky fared so well at Butler's. You could say it's his "home course," as he is working there this summer cleaning golf carts and lending a hand with whatever else is needed. One of the "perks" of the job is free rounds of golf, a big bonus for any golfer, particularly one who is still in high school.

Still, Kaminsky shakes his head when he hears someone suggest he was supposed to win because it's the course he plays on most frequently.

"A lot of people say just because you belong there you're going to win, but I still believe you have to put the ball in the hole to win," Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky attended a four-day golf camp at California University of Pennsylvania this week. Kaminsky and his peers got instruction from Vulcans coach Peter Coughlin and played daily rounds at Cedarbrook Golf Course in Rostraver.

In addition to playing in some of the King's Junior tournaments, Kaminsky is now testing his skill in American Junior Golf Association events. The AJGA conducts tournaments across the country. Kaminsky played in one at the beginning of June at The Links at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Fayette County.

Since claiming the WPIAL title his freshman year, Kaminsky hasn't fared quite as well at the WPIAL championships. Last fall, he tied for 13th place when he shot an 82. That was his best finish since the 2-over 74 he fired as a freshman at Youghiogheny Country Club, also located in Elizabeth Township.

Kaminsky is hoping to end his high school career in the same way he started it. He believes that if he is successful, it might attract more interest from college programs.

"This next season I have to play pretty well," said Kaminsky, whose father, Kevin, is Serra's golf coach. "I'd like to do well at WPIALs and I need to qualify for the state tournament. I don't want to put pressure on myself, but I have to do well to get some more [college interest]."

That said, golfing isn't everything to Kaminsky. In addition to spending a lot of time on the course this summer -- playing and working -- he'll still devote a fair share of time to his friends, family and, of course, basketball.

"A lot of kids just focus on one sport, but I don't believe in that," Kaminsky said. "You only live in your teens once. I golf when I can, play basketball when I can and hang out with my friends when I can."

Added Kaminsky, with a laugh: "And I like money, so I've got to work."

golf - hsbasketball


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