Friday, March 15, 2013

Varsity golf: No experience needed

Sophomore Stephanie Miller enjoys time on golf team despite not playing in high school, or ever before

by Sam Horn, Sports Writer

Of the many collegiate athletes who are either recruited to join university sports or just decide to walk-on, there are some who have virtually no experience but try out for a team anyway.

The women’s golf team had a newcomer last year who had practically never grasped a golf club in her entire life, save for a few putt-putt golf experiences.

Stephanie Miller, now a sophomore at Pacific Lutheran University, gained a lot of experience playing volleyball and softball during her high school career.

She decided to join the girls’ golf team, however, because they needed an extra team member.

Miller’s roommate, sophomore Kristina Norlin, invited Miller to try out for the golf team since they had lost some members due to lack of interest and the pressure of schoolwork.

“I’ve always liked to play sports,” Miller said. “After the coach [Michael Fosnick] saw me swing, he told me that he really liked my attitude towards the sport, and he put me on the team.”

Miller contemplated playing volleyball at PLU, but because the tryouts for the team were held in July, she was unable to partake in drills. Miller hails from Gulfport, Miss. and didn’t want to fly to Washington to try out during the summer.

Miller played softball for seven years, both on her high school team and for various club teams, and she earned All-District honors in volleyball while she was in high school.

Even though Miller plays golf now, she hasn’t erased volleyball from her life. She participates in intramural volleyball at PLU.

“[Volleyball] is my sport. I will play it anywhere, anytime, anyplace,” Miller said. “On the other hand, I enjoy [golf], because it’s different from every other sport I’ve played.”

Miller has had little time to catch up on all of the rules and regulations of golf. She hasn’t had the stereotypical golfer experience where a golf club was put in her hand when she was three.

Concerning her golf game, Miller said she needs to be more consistent with her swings and contact.

Miller’s coach, Michael Fosnick, told her she has a good swing, but needed to learn consistency.

“I don’t always see improvement, but when I do, it gives me a real sense of achievement,” Miller said. “Golf is truly 95 percent mental.”

Miller has had the opportunity to play at a variety of challenging courses throughout her young collegiate golf career.

She said the Olympia Country and Golf Club stuck out in her mind as the favorite course she’s played on.

She was able to play on this course at the Saint Martin’s Invitational last fall.

“I liked [The Olympia Country and Golf Club], because it was really challenging.” Miller said the course had a lot of slopes that required strategy to get the ball on the greens. “My score on the course was okay, but I was most proud of my consistency on my swings,” Miller said.

Aside from practicing on the course and honing her golf skills, Miller stays busy in school. She is pursuing a degree in psychology and working to obtain minors in statistics and business with hopes of attending graduate school.

“Ultimately, I want to work in the field of developmental psychology, which focuses on childhood behavior and understanding how people process and learn,” Miller said. She also said she wants to own a preschool someday.

Miller wants to continue playing golf at PLU next year, but said if her homework takes up too much of her time, she will have to focus strictly on her schoolwork and put golf aside.

Against all odds, Miller proved her ability to compete this year at the collegiate level against more experienced athletes.