Cheyenne Knight is a polite young lady.
The Aledo High School senior never fails to shake the hand of her opponent after defeating them on the golf course and telling them "good game."
Of course, their game is rarely as good as hers. But then, if it were she wouldn't be the defending Class 5A state champion.
'When I was 6, I went to my first summer golf camp," she said. "At the end of the camp, I was awarded the best swing out of all the boys and girls. When my parents asked me if I knew why I got the award I responded with, 'I got the award because I said please and thank you.' I had no idea it was because of my improvement.
"I was introduced to the game when I was 6, and I started playing when I was 9. My dad introduced me to the game of golf, I used to watch him hit balls on the range after school."
And she's continued to get better ever since. Last season, after moving to Aledo from the Woodlands during her sophomore year, Knight won district, regional and state championships as a junior, leading her team to a fourth-place finish. She was also named to the USA Today High School Sports All-USA Team, and she has been named a Rolex Junior All-American twice.
"It was an amazing feeling to win state last year," said the humble Knight. "But the support from my parents, coaches, teammates and classmates is what made it that much sweeter. I couldn't have done it without them."
This past week, she successfully defended her district championship, the first step toward a repeat state championship, with the next being this week at the Region I Tournament in Abilene. And though she consistently proves how much better she is than competitors, she respects the challenges the game of golf has to offer with each round.
"Golf is definitely the most demanding sport there is out there. I love it because each day you can get better and there is always something to improve on," she said. "The mental aspect is the most challenging thing about golf. It's easy to get down on yourself when things start to not go your way. You have to stay positive and forget about the bad holes.
"It wasn't until last year when I finally realized having a bad round or hole is not the end of the world. If hitting a bad shot is the worst thing that can happen to me, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be okay. I'm blessed to have the opportunity to play golf and if I'm not enjoying my time on the golf course I'm wasting my talent."
And she's got plenty of talent. For example, she shot 16-under-par 128 (63-65) to win the District 8-5A Tournament at Squaw Valley in Glen Rose last week. She shot that exact same score on the same course just over a week earlier in the district preview.
But she's also one very hard worker, as are most extremely talented athletes, said Aledo High coach Greg Nelson.
"Cheyenne's potential seems to be unlimited. During the last two seasons, I have seen her get better each and every day," Nelson said. "Her improvement each day is due to her drive to be the best at what she does.
"It would be easy for her to say, 'I was the state champion last year' and rest on that achievement. I have seen huge improvements this season in her distance and her putting. Again, this is Cheyenne wanting to be the best at every level.
"I know she has goals to be the best at the college level, and I have no doubt in my mind that will continue some day day on the LPGA. If she wants it, she will do whatever it takes to make it happen."
Knight has already committed to play for the University of Alabama next season and major in communications. And yes, she does dream of playing professionally.
"I chose Alabama because of their successful golf program and rich history and culture of the school," she said. "I would love to play professionally. But, I will get a degree first and see where it goes from there."
Nelson said a player such as Knight does more than win. She makes everyone around her work harder and want to be better.
"The work ethic Cheyenne displays has been vital to not only our girls program at Aledo, but to everyone involved. Young players and her teammates see how hard Cheyenne works and they see what it takes to be the best," he said. "She doesn’t have to say anything, she just works every day to be perfect at her game and it rubs off on everyone that’s around her.
"I will never forget Cheyenne’s achievements here at Aledo High School, but more important to me is the morals and character she has displayed. She is the direct reflection of an awesome family that I will always remember as great friends and supporters. Cheyenne makes those around her better people, she has made me a better person and coach.
"Cheyenne’s work ethic doesn’t begin and end on the golf course. She excels in the classroom. Her success has been driven by great work habits and its displayed in the classroom and course. Cheyenne is a great player, but she is an excellent student and has developed friendships at Aledo High School that will last a lifetime."
That camaraderie is among the things she will miss the most when this season is over and she graduates in a few weeks, Knight said.
"Getting to play with my best friends every day, after every round we're always there for each other, and nothing beats that," she said. "It has been a great and unforgettable season and career at AHS. I have grown as a player and person and I can't wait for the next step in my life."