Daily Egyptian

Golfer makes new home in Carbondale

By Tony McDaniel

One player on the Saluki women’s golf team has overcome her fair share of adversity to play with SIU this season.

Junior Kris Grimes is playing in her first season for the Salukis. In that short time, Grimes has turned into one of coach Alexis Mihelich’s top players.

“She hits it far and she can make putts so she makes a lot of birdies… Her birdie conversion is one of the highest on the team.” Mihelich said. “Statistically, she’s my number-three player in scoring average.”


Grimes spent her freshman and sophomore seasons playing for College of the Canyons in Los Angeles. In her two years with the Cougars, Grimes was a two-time All- American, and also the individual state champion in California her freshman year.

Mihelich said Grimes’ recruiting process to SIU was unorthodox. Grimes reached out to Mihelich about joining the Salukis.

“Kris sent me an email and I didn’t respond to it. Then she sent me another one like, ‘Why didn’t you respond to my email?'” Mihelich said. “I responded to her and looked up her scores and was kind of like, ‘Oh these are pretty good scores.’ So I was glad she was so persistent.”

Grimes said the decision to move more than 1,600 miles to SIU from her hometown of Compton, Calif. stemmed from an idea a friend gave her.

“I had a friend that lived out here and mentioned the school and he said they’ve got a golf team, and I was like oh really,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to come to the Midwest and do a little traveling outside of California. I like the decision I made.”

Grimes started playing golf at age 10 while also playing basketball and participating in figure skating at her local ice rink. Grimes said her parents told she and her brother they had to choose one sport.

“You can’t get a scholarship for figure skating and I don’t have the height for basketball, so golf it was,” She said.

Figure skating was Grimes’ first passion. Grimes began skating at an ice rink behind the bowling alley her parents played at.

“My mom was really into figure skating,” she said. “I started figure skating at three and a half; did it for twelve years before I stopped. I decided golf was the love of my life.”

Grimes was born on June 3, 1992 in Compton, Calif., less than two months after the LA riots, which took place in South-Central LA, including Grimes’ hometown.

Grimes said despite the history of violence, Compton is not as bad as it seems.

“Every city in every state has its areas that are good and areas that are bad,” she said. “Unfortunately, in the area I live, we have a combination of both. Things happen down the street and around the corner.”

Grimes attended Saint Joseph High School, a Catholic all-girls school in nearby Lakewood, Calif.

“[Saint Joseph] had a golf program; that was one of the major things,” Grimes said. “It was alright. I was the only person I knew from my elementary school to go there, so I had to make new friends and meet new people. It was kind of tough, but it turned out pretty good in the end.”

The Grimes family found themselves victim to Compton’s violence. In 2012, the Grimes family home in a rural area of Compton wasbroken into by some of their neighbors.

“I was playing at College of the Canyons at the time. I just played really well at a tournament. I medaled, and my Dad asked me to come with him after it was over,” Grimes said. “My dad said we really have to drive fast, because Aaron [Grimes] just said the house got broken into… We were pretty terrified to hear that people we lived near did that, and it just didn’t feel like a home anymore.”

Grimes comes from a family with a rich history. Her grandfather, Herman L. Grimes, is the inventor of the folding wing aircraft. Herman’s invention helped turn the tide in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. Thanks to his innovation, the U.S. Navy was able to carry more planes on their aircraft carriers.

Grimes said her grandfather’s accomplishments push her to succeed in her own endeavors.

“It makes me feel like I have a purpose to not only be the best person I can be, but uphold my family name at the same time,” she said.

Grimes wrote some history of her own in September when Grimes became the first African- American women’s golfer in SIU history. Grimes said following in her grandfather’s steps is something she is proud of.

“I think it’s a great responsibility and a great honor at the same time,” she said.

Grimes is from a family of eight kids, and is the youngest girl in her family. Since many of Grimes’ siblings are older, they’ve begun to have children of their own.

“I’m a great aunt, my nieces and nephews have had their children too,” she said.

Grimes’ large family got a little bit bigger when she came to SIU. Seniors Ashleigh and Cassie Rushing adopted Grimes as their honorary third twin.

“We always joke that Kris is our triplet because we look so much alike,” she said.

Ashleigh said Grimes is the type of teammate who knows how to keep the mood light amongst the team.

“She is always really encouraging,” Ashleigh said. “If you played bad or even if you played well, you know she’s going to make you laugh because she’s pretty goofy. She definitely brings a good vibe to the team.”

Grimes and the rest of her team will continue their season at the University of North Florida Intercollegiate tournament Monday and Tuesday.

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected], @ tonymcdanielDE or

at 536-3311 ext. 282


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