Editor's note: This is the second story in a series highlighting Hernando High's 2012 Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
Hernando County hasn't traditionally produced stellar results in girls golf. Two years ago, Hernando High couldn't manage to field a team.
But once upon a time, the Lady Leopards reigned supreme, and not just over the county or even the general area.
In 1997, Hernando captured what was then the Class 4A state championship at TPC Prestancia in Sarasota.
No other county golf team – male or female – has ever accomplished that feat.
The state runner-up that year was the most decorated prep golfer in county history, and the defending state champion from the previous season: Kelly Lagedrost.
Some 15 years later, Lagedrost will return to Hernando on Oct. 11-12 as one of eight new inductees in the Hernando High School Sports Hall of Fame.
"It's a great honor," Lagedrost said. "It's the first Hall of Fame I've ever been inducted to, which is kind of neat. I'm glad they started this a couple of years ago."
A 1997 Hernando graduate, these days the Brooksville native works as the head golf professional at Brooksville Country Club.
She has held the job since the end of October last year, when she decided to retire from professional golf.
Before that, she had built an impressive resume on the links at a variety of different stops.
It all began as a way for the only child to spend time with her parents, Randy and Holly Lagedrost, who are avid golfers.
She first took up the sport at the age of 8, and played in her first tournament at 10 years old.
"T-Ball is where I learned to swing," Lagedrost said. "My dad said let's put a golf club in my hands and see what happens."
Randy Lagedrost is a retired Hernando High math teacher, who served as the school's head boys golf coach for 10 years through 1995.
"It's a dad's dream being able to play with your kid," he said.
In recalling his daughter's T-Ball days, he relayed the story of her first at-bat, when she stepped into the left-handed batter's box.
Just one issue: she's a natural righty. No one ever made the correction, and to this day she remains a southpaw on the links.
"She progressed quite quickly," Randy Lagedrost said. "She already had the hand-eye coordination. It came pretty naturally to her.
"She'd come out and hang out with my (boys) team and play with us. They knew she was pretty darn good."
By the time Kelly reached high school, the family had moved to the area around Brooksville Country Club. Randy Lagedrost would come home from school to find a note from his daughter, telling him to come find her out on the course.
Over the years she played softball and basketball, but very early she had an inkling that golf was her future.
For that reason, she stuck to that sport once she arrived at Hernando and it paid off nicely both for her and the program.
As a freshman, she tied for fourth at states, shooting a 79-77—156. The following year, she again took fourth, yet improved to 77-74—151.
At that point, with his coaching duties preventing him from watching his daughter play, Randy Lagedrost stepped down from the boys job.
He felt the girls team was in the capable coaching hands of T.V. Chambers, so he simply sat back as an onlooker.
Kelly made that decision pay off. Her junior season featured her collecting the only individual state crown in county golf history.
Playing at The Venice Golf and Country Club in the 1996 4A FHSAA Finals, Lagedrost shot a 72-73—145, edging Ellen Dunne of Fort Lauderdale-Cardinal Gibbons by two strokes.
"There was no rhyme or reason to why I won it," she said. "I had a good day. Obviously I practiced hard during high school. I had thoughts of going further. So I put the time in and I was very dedicated to my game.
"It was a good feeling to know I could compete with other people in the state."
Though she fell short of repeating in 1997, posting a 71-75—146 to finish one stroke behind Younga Yang out of Saddlebrook, she was hardly disappointed.
"I was just happy with the team win," Lagedrost said. "The biggest thing then was to have a state championship under our belts for the team."
Since golf was a spring sport at the time, Lagedrost soon graduated and landed at USF.
She graduated from that school in 2001 with a degree in elementary education, but not before collecting several more accolades.
An All-Conference USA first team selection four times and a three-time NCGA Academic All-American, she had her finest season in 1998-99.
She finished in the top 10 in 9-of-10 events, was the first USF player to win a NCAA regional title, was named USF Female Athlete of the year and USF Alumni Association Student-Athlete of the Year, and garnered first team All-American honors.
In 2000-01, Lagedrost was tabbed as Conference USA Player of the Year and was later named to the conference's Team of the Decade.
During the course of her college career, she posted three wins.
"I set some records as far as the university level. That was kind of neat. I still hold a couple of those records," she said. "I loved South Florida. It was a great experience. And it really allowed me to get a great education, but also develop my game."
Lagedrost briefly returned to the Bulls as head coach for the 2006-07 season.
Following her graduation from USF, she immediately went pro and played on the LPGA's developmental Futures Tour.
During 10 years competing on that circuit, now known as the Symetra Tour, Lagedrost notched 10 top 10 placings. She finished as high as fourth and earned $78,529.
Twice she gained LPGA Tour non-exempt status through the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, and competed on the tour in 2004 and 2006.
In 2004, she participated in 16 LPGA events, making three cuts. Two years later, she played in 11 tournaments and made the cut twice.
Additionally, she played in the 2005 U.S. Women's Open Championship.
Feeling burned out, she decided that 2011 would be her final season. During her LPGA career, she collected $13,871.
"There are always good times and bad times with that," Lagedrost said. "Some years I played great, some years were rougher than others. It was a constant grind. I think that's why I got worn out in the end. But I wouldn't trade if for anything.
"I wish I competed more on the LPGA than the Futures Tour, but you do what you can. I tried my best and that's what I got."
When the job at Brooksville Country Club opened up, she jumped at the opportunity.
"It's neat learning the business side of everything and I like it," Lagedrost said. "I feel like I'll stay around golf in some aspect all my life. It's what I know and what I'm comfortable with."
Her father noted how well she has taken to teaching the game, a skill he figures she honed working with other golfers on tour.
Though her playing days are behind her, he still beams over what his daughter accomplished. He'll introduce her during her Hall of Fame induction.
"She had every part of the game," Randy Lagedrost said. "I think even in high school, she felt very comfortable on the golf course competing.
"Kelly is not just a great golfer, but she has been a joy since she was a tot. There's that pride. But we've enjoyed her.
"She's one of those kids that everybody enjoys being around and she was like that in high school, too. She's still that way. I hope she never changes."