The Orion

Small women’s golf team, tighter bond among players

Julie Ortega

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Dani O'Keefe, senior criminal justice major, mid swing at the Skyway Golf Park on Saturday. Photo credit: Alicia Brogden

The Chico State women’s golf team has never been a large team, but not by choice. The team has had to deal with the unexpected departure of players for either personal reasons or not meeting grade requirements. Within the past two seasons, the Wildcats have lost a total of three players on a relatively small team.

In the 2014-15 season, the Wildcats lost two key players after competing for a single semester at Chico State leaving the ‘Cats with a small squad of five remaining golfers.

“It’s tough to lose any players from your team,” said Nick Green, women’s golf head coach. “One of the freshman was a pretty high contributor to our success.”

Going into the 2015-16 season, Green has a total of six players on his team. In the spring, three out of those six will be graduating: senior Bianca Armanini, senior Dani O’Keefe and junior Sydney Zink.

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Dani O'Keefe and Bianca Armanini, seniors, get ready to play through the Skyway Golf Park course on Saturday. Photo credit: Alicia Brogden

Originally, the women’s golf team started off with seven players for the fall 2015 tour. But within the past weeks for personal reasons, junior transfer, April Chang made the decision to walk away from the team and return home. Everyone on the team was shocked when they were informed about her decision to not compete with the ‘Cats.

“There’s no warning signs out there that I received, not from her coaches or people that knew her,” Green said.

Despite Chang’s decision to leave the team, Green said he doesn’t have any ill feelings toward her. Instead, he believes the team will only go forward from here, he said.

“We lost her and that was unfortunate for us, but I think both of our freshmen are going to step up to the plate and do really well for us,” O’Keefe said.

While O’Keefe and the team wish Chang was here, they also wish her best, O’Keefe said.

Regardless of what has happened, the players don’t let it get the best of them. They have big goals for the 2015 season.

“I’d like our team to place top five in every event and give ourselves the opportunity to win every event,” O’Keefe said, “and be the most prepared.”

Being on such a small team, she tries to help her teammates stay motivated whether it’s during or outside of practice, said O’Keefe.

With Armanini, O’Keefe and Zink graduating in the spring, Green hopes to recruit four to five new players to fill the spots of the graduating Wildcats.

However, he is focused on this season and confident he has a solid team.

“I’m really excited to get started. I think everybody improved last year so all the returners are going to be better,” he said. “My incoming freshman, I think are going to be very solid.”

Julie Ortega can be reached at [email protected] or @julieOrtega_ on Twitter.

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Small women’s golf team, tighter bond among players