Wonder Woman is a fictional DC Comics character. Steel Woman is an almost too good to be true real-life character who attends Joliet Central High School.
Her friends and classmates know her has Milena Singletary, Joliet Patch’s September Athlete of the Month.
Natalie O’Connell, Singletary’s counselor and assistant coach on the JT girls golf team, calls her “Steel Woman” because she exemplifies what it means to be an active participant in all walks of life at Joliet Central, home of the Steelmen.
Singletary, age 15, recently completed her sophomore season as the No. 1 player on JT’s girls golf team. She was the crowned as medalist in five of JT’s 14 matches and posted the team’s low score in 12 of those 14 matches.
She had season-low nine-hole rounds of 40 vs. Andrew and 41 vs. Homewood-Flossmoor. She shot 88 in the Class AA Joliet Regional at Inwood and advanced to the Class AA Marian Catholic Sectional before ultimately running into a buzz saw.
Singletary capped a marathon round that trudged on for more than 5 hours at Coyote Run by sinking a 30-foot birdie putt for a score of 91 and an “I can’t wait for next season” reason to return.
“She is a perfectly well-rounded student; I wish we had 100 more of her,” O’Connell said.
Singletary boasts a 4.25 grade-point average in the honors program at Joliet Central. She plays golf and plays the saxophone in JT Central’s concert and symphonic bands. She also marches in parades on weekends and keeps up with her homework, often getting bits and pieces of it done on bus rides home from events.
“On top of that, she has soccer,” O’Connell said. “She’s plays on a club team on the side. She’ll practice here until 6 or 6:30 and then get in the car and go straight to soccer. So, you can’t ask for more. She really is like a true Steel Woman.”
Hello, golf: Lifetime sport
Singletary’s father introduced her to golf. Mark Singletary enrolled Milena in the First Tee program at Inwood when she was in seventh grade. Little did she know then what kind of education was in store for her on the links.
“I came out and it was teaching you about life skills and stuff through the game of golf,” she said. “I kind of learned to hit the ball then.”
Later, she took lessons from a teaching pro, John Platt.
And now she has enough game to hold her own with the best of the best—at least in most situations. She’s still working to boost her confidence level for play on big stages like the sectional tournament.
“Yeah, experience, and a little bit more confidence,” Singletary said. “My coach keeps trying to get me to be more confident and know that I can do what these other girls out there can do. That, and probably the patience, to play 18 holes—it took us 3½ hours to play the front nine (at Coyote Run).”
Singletary recovered from a rough start—triple-bogey, double-bogey—with a stretch that saw her check in at 1-over for the next four holes in Monday’s sectional. Then, she waited 45 minutes to hit her next shot because of a backup on a par-3 hole. Her momentum was lost.
“She’s got a fantastic swing; she worked this past winter with John Platt and really, really fine-tuned some of the things she needed to work on,” JT girls golf coach Brian Koehne said. “Then, this year, when she got out here, the first couple of weeks she was shooting good scores, but she would have one or two holes that hurt her.
“When things turned around for her—and what she did great the rest of the year, especially at regionals—she learned how to recover. So, if she hit a bad shot, she knew how to get the next shot in the right spot to minimize the damage.
“One of the holes (at the Marian Catholic Sectional) that was hurting a lot of the girls from all the schools was No. 7. Her second shot went in the water. But she still was able to make bogey by making a nice chip shot and sinking a tough putt.
“I think that’s one of the things about her is her focus and determination. And she’s so smart. She’s smart in everything she does. So, she’s able to learn and say, ‘What do I need to do to minimize the damage and not take that big number anymore?’
“In an 18-hole round, it’s going to happen. You’re not going to play a perfect round. But to minimize that to one or two bad holes is huge. That’s why you started to see her scores really come down at the end of the year.”