In Noel Allen’s first year as head coach, the PLNU women’s golf team thrived and flourished during perhaps one of the most successful seasons in Point Loma sports history. Key highlights of the 2015-16 season included a third place finish in the PacWest Championships, their first-ever NCAA Super Regional berth, and 29th in the final Division II Golfstat rankings. Despite only a mere six individuals being listed on the roster, the team’s future truly looked brighter than ever before.
Now, after a swift turn of events over the summer, the team now finds itself, at least for the time being, under new leadership. Lance Hancock—a former golf player, a former animator, and a Florida State alumnus—was called upon to take control of the team while Allen—now with child—inevitably took time off for personal and family reasons.
Hancock’s life story began on the east coast in Washington D.C., and golf had always played a major role in it due to the influence of both family and friends. However, once he decided that professional golf was out of the picture, he eventually walked away from the sport and focused on his studies of film, advertising and communications at Florida State. His departure to the west coast was not relevant to the sport of golf, but rather his career in animation.
“I worked for an animation studio in Southern California as a color palette designer,” Hancock said. “Eventually, I interviewed with Disney and Warner Brothers in Los Angeles, and I went to a golf tournament during my time there. As a player walked off the green, I thought to myself how I used to play with this guy, and how he’s now playing professionally. It led to me wondering why I left golf. As a result, I became a teaching professional at La Costa Resort and Spa. From there, I eventually became involved with Callaway and found myself working on professional tours.”
Hancock’s renewed passion for golf and professional experience certainly contributed to his eventual journey to Point Loma. But it wasn’t without some bizarre fortune—and perhaps God’s intervention—that led to him being in his current position.
“It came to me through a mutual friend of the athletic director: Ethan Hamilton,” Hancock said. “They were roommates together. My friend, our wives and I met in a marriage class and we introduced ourselves. I mentioned my experience in professional golf, and he was a golf freak, so we hit it off and eventually started playing golf regularly together. My friend recently told me that his alma mater (Point Loma) needs a new head coach because their current coach, Noel Allen, is with child and is unsure of her ability to commit. I believe my friend had talked to Hamilton about offering the position to me.”
With high expectations coming off of last season’s success, one would think Hancock would be under tremendous pressure and stress. But so far, he feels that the team’s recent success has only made things easier.
“Noel Allen laid an incredible foundation, and it’s been somewhat of an easy transition,” Hancock said. “We just need to continue what we’ve been doing since last year. Of course, it would be nice to have her sitting here to balance things out.”
Upon being asked about the ultimate goals and expectations of the team, Hancock admitted that winning, while a primary measure for success in the world of sports, was only a secondary focus when it came to the growth of each individual. He was instead concerned mainly about shaping his players through character and spiritual development.
“What really attracted me to coming here was how the faculty and staff love these student athletes.” Hancock said. “They want them to not only be successful in their sport of choice, but also to grow as Godly women. My goal is to nurture this team of women spiritually, and give them a sense of safety to be who they want to be. If we win, absolutely, I want to win. But not at the cost of losing somebody’s soul or love of the sport and school.”
Junior golfer Lindsey Redmond agrees with Hancock’s “team growth” mentality, and feels that success on the course will naturally come as a result.
“Our goal is to grow as a team on and off the course,” Redmond said. “I notice when we all have fun, it relaxes us and mentally helps our performance.”
Ultimately, Hancock feels blessed to be in this position, and feels that it is most certainly no accident.
“I’m here because the Lord said it’s good for me,” Hancock said. “It’s just been the biggest blessing.”
The team’s first tournament—Art of Golf Classic—was played on Sept. 12-13 in San Francisco. Three more tournaments will be played over the course of September and October before the conclusion of the season’s first half.