With the inaugural women’s golf season kicking off in September, Valparaiso now sets its sights on its first championship season as the Crusaders head into the spring of 2010. Head coach Mike Higdon has five players, all of whom got their first collegiate experience in the fall, ready to take to the links to utilize the experience they gained and continue to move forward with the Crusader golf program.
From the time the announcement was made that women’s golf was being added in February, 2009, Higdon has put together a team consisting of four freshmen and an existing student on campus for Valpo’s first season. Improvement was constant throughout the fall, and now that momentum is looked upon to carry over into the spring.
“There are many positives to build off of from the fall season leading into spring 2010,” Higdon said. “The women’s team posted their lowest team tournament round in the last round of the fall. Annie Nolan tied her season-low while Jessica O’Brien bettered her previous low round by three shots. We were able to build some confidence with that tournament heading into the winter workouts.”
Nolan led the Crusaders in scoring average in the fall, shooting 90.5 over eight rounds. She shared the team’s low round of the season, 87, while posting the team’s top tournament score in two of the four events in which Valpo competed.
O’Brien posted Valpo’s top score in the final event of the fall, the Dayton Fall Invitational, while carding her season-best score of 88 in the final round. Half of her rounds were 93 or below, and she consistently played among the top three golfers on the roster.
Kathleen Cooper started the Crusaders’ history off on a positive note, leading the Brown and Gold at their inaugural event, the PTSIR Golf Performance Classic. She carded a pair of 87s during the fall, matching Nolan for the team’s low round of the fall.
The fourth freshman on the roster, Sarah Al-Momar, also got her first taste of collegiate golf, playing all eight rounds for the Brown and Gold. Her scores dropped dramatically from her first event, showing some of the largest improvement on the team. With the work that she has put in, she will be called upon to contribute even more this spring.
Kadie Savoree is the only non-freshman on the Crusader roster. Already a student on campus when the announcement of the golf program was made, she rounded out the Valpo roster in the fall. A senior in the classroom, her experience is able to carry over off of the course when she relates to the teammates, helping them transition to the college setting.
“Our players have matured so much both on and off of the course over these past five months and I am really proud of them,” Higdon said. They also excelled in the classroom, which they must do to be a student-athlete at Valparaiso University. I could not be more proud of the team considering we announced the start of the program just one year ago.”
The spring slate will begin on March 22-23 as the Crusaders compete in the Butler Spring Invitational held in Indianapolis, Ind. Valpo will then head to Peoria, Ill. April 5-6 for the Bradley Spring Classic before playing in Chicago a week later at the Loyola Spring Invitational. The final tournament before the conference championships will be held April 17-18 in Bowling Green, Ohio. The Horizon League Championships take place in Lexington, Ky. on April 24-25.
“The women worked hard during the off-season on strength and conditioning as well as on their swings in our indoor facility,” Higdon concluded. “I have seen a noticeable difference with a few of the ladies as far as distance. I am expecting for us to keep improving over the next six weeks and am hoping we will save our lowest rounds of the season for the Horizon League Championships.”