Lauren SchwabPokemon, Golf, and Trumpet Extraordinaire

Two years ago, as the 2006 Pokémon Trading Card Game state champion, junior Lauren Schwab won travel money to attend the national championships at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio. “It was this gigantic event, and the hall was probably four times the size of the Ames High gym without partition in it. That was an amazing experience,” said Schwab. “The first year, I kind of bombed. I was 5-4 in a nine-round tournament, so it wasn’t too bad, but I was determined to improve on it.” The following year, at the 2007 national championships, she won 6 of 9 matches to place 61st out of nearly 300 other competitors from around the country. She first learned to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game in 1999, when she joined organized league play at Mayhem Collectibles in Ames. “When I started, [Pokémon] was the most appealing of all the different card games. I got hooked on it. There’s always this element of strategy…each card has a different [ability]. It’s how you make them work together,” she said. However, the game decreased in popularity, and for a while, only three people remained in the league—Schwab, her father, and the league organizer. The league finally came back a few years ago; currently there are close to 90 members, and around 30 show up each Friday night. Schwab is extremely competitive in Pokémon, but even more so in golf. Claiming golf is “a third of my life, or more,” Schwab sees golf as more of an individual conquest over the golf course than a person-to-person competition like Pokémon. “I always ask, ‘Where did I make an extra stroke?’ ‘Where did the golf course beat me?’” At the end of last summer, Schwab shot her personal best of 76 at Otter Creek. She was determined to shoot in the 70s, since Otter Creek was being torn down for the interstate. “Sometime in my life, at the major courses I’ve played at, like Otter Creek, Willow Creek, the country clubs, I want to be able to shoot a score in the 70s at them. That’s been my whole goal, especially the last year and a half.” Schwab is a member of the high school team, which placed third at state, not too far behind second. “Hopefully, assuming everyone can improve a lot, [this year] we can win the state title, or at least runner-up.” Also a member of marching band, jazz band, and symphonic band, Schwab says that playing trumpet is the remaining third of her life. She was second trumpet in last year’s All-state band. “It was a nice reward, though, after working my butt off all fall trying to make every note perfect.” Schwab plans to continue playing music and golf in college, where she will likely be a major in the atmospheric sciences. “I think weather is really fascinating. Last summer, we were trying to take off and fly to Canada, and there was a tornado that went right by the Des Moines airport. Not too soon before we were supposed to board, I was in the stairwell. I got to see it and capture it on camera while everyone else was freaking out. I was just calm and collected.” If she had everything her way, she would be a professional golfer. “If I level down on my game, I think there’s potential…that would be all I’d have to do for a living.” But most of all, said Schwab, “I wouldn’t want to be known just for golf alone, or my trumpet alone…I want to be known as a well-rounded person.”