COLUMBIA - Three years after picking up a disc for the first time, Cynthia Riccotti is thriving in her quest to become a professional disc golfer, and now she's working to bring her passion to fellow students.
"It's something that I really love and, hopefully, I can do it as a professional one day," she said.
Riccotti finished second in the Amateur and Junior World Championship in the Girls 16 and under division and she won the largest intermediate disc golf tournament in the world this year, thrusting her into the advanced division, one step below the professional level.
While that goal may still be a few years away, Riccotti has set her sights on a new challenge: developing and growing the sport locally. She has a pretty good idea on how to tackle it, by focusing on teaching and by fostering a love of the game for students.
She's currently in the process of trying to put a disc golf course at Battle High School.
"It's going to be right in the middle of Battle Elementary and Battle High School, so that gives Battle Elementary and Battle High School a way to work together and use that disc golf course to like, unite their schools," she said.
Riccotti is able to do this through Battle's Triple 'E' program. That's a course the school offers to challenge students to tackle a year-long project in the real world. It teaches students to move beyond the classroom and face problems that come with completing projects.
"I was wracking my brain for a project to do, and I didn't know what to do, and then I'm like 'I play disc golf everyday, what can I do with that?' and I was like 'can I build a disc golf course?' and they were like 'sure.'"
For Riccotti, disc golf was love at first throw. Now she's hoping the school administration will see the potential to grab students at a young age.
"We're really going to push that it's a very cheap and easy game to play at first," Riccotti said. "And we're going to use the fact that elementary students can use it too."
Her teacher, Matt Leuchtmann, sees the course as a way to get students from both schools outside, learning and having fun.
"Hopefully we have Battle High School students and Battle Elementary School students learning about disc golf and being able to experience the outdoors and play a sport that not many people are not really familiar with," Leuchtmann said.
Riccotti's father, Dino Riccotti, said he is proud of his daughter attempting to grow the sport, but doesn't want to step on her toes through the process.
"I'll stay in it as long as she'll have me in it," he said. "But I'm gonna let her take care of it. She asks me a question, asks for advice, I'll give it to her, but this is her project and I'll let her take care of it."
For Cynthia Riccotti, this whole experience has showed her that she doesn't have to limit herself to one passion.
She said, "Having something you love go into something you also love, disc golf and school, it's been really eye opening that you can do two things you love and put it into one and still get high school credit for it."