GREEN BAY — The UW-Green Bay women’s golf team has had a historic season, accomplishing a few feats never done before in program history.
They won the Horizon League conference for the first time ever and are dancing their way to the NCAA Regional out in Pullman, Washington.
“It’s still surreal,” said Phoenix head coach Lee Reinke. “Even to the point where yesterday a couple of ladies at practice said can you believe we’re going to Washington?”
The Phoenix were trailing by a few strokes heading into the last two days of the Horizon League tournament, but then they really got it going and when it was all said and done, they won by 12 strokes.
“Just being able to finally win the Horizon League with a team that I consider family is something I could have never asked for,” said Phoenix golfer and grad student Isabelle Maleki. “It’s amazing.”
Last Wednesday was also a special moment, as the Phoenix saw their team flash up on the big screen during the selection show on the Golf Channel.
“It was obviously something that none of us have experienced, so it was really cool to be in that atmosphere,” said Phoenix golfer and grad student Ashley Kulka. “Just seeing our name on the screen on the golf channel with all those other schools was really neat.”
“When we saw Pullman, it really felt special, knowing where we’re going – none of us have been to Washington,” said Reinke. “None of us have been up in that area. It just feels exciting and different. Feels like the NCAA Regional.”
The women give a lot of credit to Reinke, who has been at the helm of the program for 8 years.
“Coach Lee had a vision for the program and now we got to see it unfold,” said Kulka. “His passion for this team everyday is incredible. He helps us so much get better. He just helps us grow as people, as athletes, just all around.”
It's team full of many upperclassmen, 4 out of the 7 golfers on the women’s team are grad students and they’re not just successful athletes.
“3.8 GPA they lead the conference of male and female athletes in team GPA,” Reinke said. “They’re just a special group."
But this special group isn't done yet. Despite being the lowest seed in their regional, they’re excited to have this opportunity to show their grit. In their Regional they'll go up against programs like Stanford and Baylor. Rose Zhang of Stanford is the top ranked amateur golfer in the world.
“We’re kind of playing with house money and we’re going to just go have fun and let the chips fall where they may,” said the Phoenix head coach. "I think we’re all excited just to see these other schools, how they do things. I know I’m excited as well to create contacts from these other programs which are nationally known and see how they do things and learn something.”
For the grad students departing the program, they’re ready for their last hurrah together.
“We’re definitely going to enjoy it, we’re definitely going to make the most of it. We’re going to have fun. That’s all we can really focus on is having fun and just being with each other one last time,” said Kulka.
“The memories these ladies will have next week will last them a lifetime, which is awesome,” said Reinke.