The 2011-12 women’s golf team (from left): Head Coach Mallory Hetzel, Sofie Kvarnstrom, Katy Kile, Rachel Nelson ’12, Maria Kjelldorff, Christina Amoriello, Blaire Minter ’12 and Michelle Bello.

DRIVE TO SUCCEED

Women’s golf places five on a national ‘all-scholar’ team

By DANIEL HOOKER ’01

Western Carolina landed a Southern Conference-best five women golfers on the 2011-12 National Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar teams announced this summer. It is the 12th straight year WCU has placed golfers among the annual honorees, with this year’s quintet representing the most in program history.

The NGCA also ranked the WCU women’s golf team ninth in the nation in overall highest team grade-point average. The Catamounts boasted a team GPA of 3.708 last academic year.

WCU’s trio of seniors – Christina Amoriello, Blaire Minter ’12 and Rachel Nelson ’12 – were joined by first-year golfers Katie Kile and Maria Kjelldorff on the combined list of 585 women’s collegiate golfers representing the NCAA Division I, II and III levels. The criteria for selection to the All-American Scholar team include some of the most stringent in all of college athletics, with a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.50, said Head Coach Mallory Hetzel.

Seven SoCon schools put golfers on the honorary list, including two apiece from Elon, UNC-Greensboro, Chattanooga and Wofford, while Appalachian State and Furman both had one selection. WCU was one of 13 NCAA Division I programs with five or more selections.

“The women’s golf team at Western Carolina has a long-standing tradition of academic excellence.  Our student-athletes are extremely focused when it comes to their studies,” said Hetzel. “Having five NGCA All-American Scholars in one year is almost unheard of in women’s golf. It was nice to see our seniors end their careers with a well-deserved award and equally impressive to see our freshman contribute to our academic success.”

In addition to the hard work and dedication of the student-athletes, she also credited the contributions of Tony Zande ’76 and wife Lynne, whose financial gifts helped the men’s and women’s golf teams purchase customized nine-person vans. “The new team van gave our student-athletes more opportunities to study in a comfortable environment and complete assignments while on the road traveling to and from events,” Hetzel said.