PISCATAWAY, N.J. - After fighting the elements of a Northeast winter, the Rutgers women’s golf team readies to return to spring play. During the off-season, the team had to make do with months off the actual course by practicing at a local golf center. The colder climate may appear to be a disadvantage to the sport, but in head coach Maura Ballard’s eyes it was certainly an advantage.
“We have done more work this winter than in the fall because when the weather is nice all you want to do is go play golf. Well there is a lot of work to be done off the golf course in order to perform well on the golf course. The bad weather has been a blessing in disguise,” Coach Ballard explained.
Coach Ballard, in her 21st season “On the Banks,” knows in order to be successful in competition the team needs to focus on training that will enhance all aspects of their play, mentally and emotionally, as well as physically and technically. Coach Ballard has implemented programs over the winter that have targeted these specific areas to develop the complete golfer.
“These programs are increasing our individual development and in turn increasing our performance as a team. We are really excited about the amount of time that we have put in this winter in the gym and at the chalkboard. I know that in order to be successful in [competition] we need to instill programs that will enhance all aspects of our play. We have taken steps to enhance that process and our team is very excited to get our spring season started. We believe our focus and hard work in these areas will make a huge impact on our play this spring, and moving forward,” said Coach Ballard.
The weather has not stopped the team from improving their game. The Scarlet Knights have been working out in the gym three days a week with their strength and conditioning coach, Aimee Pardington. This training consists of specific golf-related exercises prescribed to each player individually by Volunteer Assistant Coach, Dr. Jeff Sommer. Dr. Sommer assesses each golfer’s strength and performance using a K Vest, which provides 3D biomechanical feedback on their movement. The feedback is transformed into individual workout plans based on the specific strengths and weaknesses in each player’s golf swing. The workouts help the players focus on the basics of their swing during their off-season training, which will help them improve on their performances from the fall.
Leading the Scarlet Knights, senior Brittany Weddell (Buzzards Bay, Mass.) stands as one of the steadiest competitors on the team. The co-captain not only leads the team with a scoring average of 76.6, but also leads by example with her levelheaded demeanor and strong attitude to never give up.
Senior Karen Cash (Allendale, N.J.) competed in all five events for the Scarlet Knights this past fall, carding an 82 stroke average. As a co-captain, she helps guide the younger girls with her years of experience on the banks.
The freshmen all show promise as they enter their second season of competition. Melanie Chambers (Henderson, Nevada) and Samantha Moyal (Alamenda, California) competed in all five events as freshmen. Chambers proved strong for the team, finishing in the top 20 in two events, recording an 80.4 scoring average. Moyal showed strength as well in her first season, recording a scoring average of 81.7.
Competing in one event this past fall, Gabrielle Sacheli (Pittsford, N.Y.) carded a 153 (77-76) to tie for 11th out of 119 competitors at the Rutgers Women’s Invitational.
Jacquelun Mullens (Brookside, N.J.) and Racquel Zurick (West Trenton, N.J.) competed as individuals at the Rutgers Women’s Invitational, showing great potential. Both will provide strength to the Scarlet Knights this season.
“Although Brittany has the lowest scoring average from the fall, I believe that every player on the team has the focus and talent to make an impact on the top five. Everyone will be a part of reaching our spring goals,” Coach Ballard foresees.
As for specific goals on the season, the main concern is to stay in the process and focus on the moment at hand. Coach Ballard emphasized, “I do not want to put any specific goals out there for anybody to be looking at. I want them to focus on the moment that they are in. Being the best person, player, and student-athlete they can be if they can take care of the moment at hand, [things such as] the place we finish in the tournament and the scoring average, will all take care of themselves.”
With the winter training and process in mind, the Scarlet Knights are prepared to take on their spring schedule. The team begins their spring campaign on March 17 in Ocala, Fla. at the Moorehead State Spring Invitational. After the Cincinnati Spring Invitational in Crystal River, Fla., the team travels to Washington, D.C. for the Georgetown Invitational. The Scarlet Knights wrap up the season at the Brown BEAR Invitational in Providence, R.I., before heading to the BIG EAST Championship in Orlando, Fla. April 21-23.