Humans of Harker: Katherine Zhu values the teamwork in an individual sport


Melissa Kwan

“At first I’m really introverted,” Katherine Zhu (12) said. “When you get to know me, I’m super talkative. You’re going to wish I stopped talking.”

by Jenna Sadhu, Broadcast and Multimedia Editor

Her arms are raised, her elbows locked at eye-level. In one deep breath, she seamlessly swings her driver and pivots her back foot in a perfect execution. Her ball soars and flies through the greens at the Palo Alto Hills Country Club. The crisp winter breeze sweeps her ponytail back as she smiles with satisfaction.

Katherine Zhu (12)’s love of golf didn’t come immediately. She first picked up a golf club at age six — and promptly set it back down for two years.

“My mom played and always wanted me to play, although it was the most boring thing in the world,” Katherine said. “That’s why I quit and started again at eight. It was more fun because I made lots of friends then through golf.”

As one of the captains of Harker’s Girls Golf team, Katherine’s award-studded seasons have included a historic trip to the Norcal individual championships, not to mention qualifying for the prestigious U.S. Golf Association’s Girls’ Junior Championship during summer season. Her accomplishments even earned her a spot to play golf for UC Berkeley. Nevertheless, she believes that the core of her experience was the team.

“Golf is an individual sport,” Katherine said. “But being part of a team promotes friendship and support. The girls are always there for each other every step of the way. Practices are way more fun when we practice together as opposed to alone. Team dinners are so fun and I really like traveling with the team to other locations and compete — really when you get to bond with each other is on those long drives to Carmel or Monterey. The golf team was a pretty valuable opportunity for me because if it wasn’t for the team, I’d just be practicing by myself every day. Being a part of a team allows me to work on my competitiveness.”

In her spare time, Katherine drives herself and friends to the hottest coffee house or newest boba bar in the Bay Area. She enjoys spending gaps in her busy schedule with friends that are “kind and supportive.”

“We can make jokes without getting offended,” Katherine said. “I especially like people that have personalities that mesh well with mine.”

Katherine’s golf teammate Devanshi Mehta (11) appreciates Katherine’s lively demeanor — while happy to share her expertise, Katherine keeps most of her interactions lighthearted.

“She’s a very original type of playful,” Devanshi said. “I’ve never met anyone with her type of humor. It’s super quirky, and once you get to know her and she starts opening up to you, she’ll be comfortable to ‘roast’ you and make jokes about everything and laugh with you.”

Upon first impressions, Katherine comes across as quiet and shy. She sticks to her tight-knit group of friends and strives to participate as minimally as possible in class. Although there is no clear reason for her timid demeanor, Katherine has strived to step outside of her comfort zone during her senior year.

“At Harker, senior year is great because you can take classes that include students from different academic backgrounds,” she said. “A lot of the senior courses are electives, and lots of the AP’s don’t require prerequisites. People from all different academic backgrounds are coming together and it’s just a nice way to meet new people, that I’d never thought I would meet.”

Katherine’s relationships to others evolve as she becomes more comfortable with them.

“At first I’m really introverted,” Katherine said. “When you get to know me, I’m super talkative. You’re going to wish I stopped talking. I just have a lot to say.”