After a turbulent fall season that included a first-place finish in the CA State Intercollegiate and a 16th place finish in the Fall Intercollegiate, the women’s golf team began their spring season on a wet, yet successful, note. The Sea Lions captured third place out of 18 teams, but perhaps even more impressive was sophomore Alli Kim’s performance, which netted an individual title.
“Not being able to practice that much prior to the tournament because of rain can sort of get in your head and cause doubt,” said Kim. “Just trusting yourself and playing confidently in the rain or any bad weather was a big factor this weekend.”
Kim, a transfer from UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas), is currently in her first year with the Sea Lions and is no stranger to being recognized in the PacWest. During the fall season, she earned multiple PacWest Golfer of the Week awards and an individual title at the CA State Intercollegiate.
“Some people thought I was crazy for transferring from a Division I university to a Division II,” said Kim. “But I’ve really enjoyed my time at Loma on and off the course.”
Junior Emily Smith, currently the only upperclassman on the roster, complimented Kim as a “great leader” who “shows a lot of great qualities that… we can all take,” but she also admitted that the last year has had its rough patches. Head Coach Lance Hancock is now in his third season with the Sea Lions, and with additional experience under his belt, Smith has noticed a slight adjustment in his coaching techniques in order to make the team more competitive.
“Since he was new, I don’t think he took as much of an initiative,” said Smith in reference to Hancock’s first season. “Since then, I think he’s taken more of an initiative and more control over the team. The changes have kind of startled everyone, and I think he’s become stricter, similarly to a Division I school. He just needs to understand that we are student-athletes trying to work out our schedules.”
Whatever it is that Hancock’s transition entails, it appears to be producing results, as the team is having by far its best season of his tenure. But it hasn’t been without its sacrifices.
“We had Michelle Picca, but she quit last year,” said Smith. “In all honesty, there’s been some conflicts with the coach. All is good now, though.”
Picca would have been the team’s only senior had she remained on the roster. Currently, the team is comprised of six sophomores (Kim, Michaela Cain, Yoona Chang, Sarah, Marek Summer Marshall and Christine Perez), one junior (Smith), and one freshman (Mia Goudy).
“Mia, she is such a sweetheart,” said Smith when discussing the team’s youngest member. “I think she’s learning a lot, just adjusting and being in college. I really think she has a lot of potential to be a great player.”
The team currently has three tournaments remaining before postseason play in late April, but through the first five tournaments, the team already has more finishes in the top three than they’ve had in an entire season since 2016.
“I really love this group of girls,” said Smith. “I really think we’re heading in the right direction. Coach does a great job getting us to focus. I know he’s come a long way. To be honest with you, it’s been a bumpy ride, but I think we’re heading in the right direction. He has a lot of potential. He just wants our time here to be lived to the fullest.”