The fall semester drawing closer to an end means that the Christmas break is here. For most, if not all college students, the holiday break is synonymous to a period of rest and relief from books.
But for the UTPA men and women’s golf teams, their three-month span between tournaments is no time
The women’s last competition was a first-place finish at the University of Texas at Brownsville Women’s Fall Shootout on Nov. 7 while the men placed second at the Savannah State University Tiger Fall Invitational a day earlier.
So while our bellies are still recovering from the beating it took during the Thanksgiving break, and prepping for another food coma on Christmas, the only thing the Broncs are hungry for are more titles.
They’ll have to wait for their first tournaments in February. The women compete next at Texas State University on Feb. 19 and the men travel to Jackson State the same day.
“Obviously I give them a week off when fall season ends, a lot of them are studying and have things going on,” UTPA men and women’s Director of Golf operations Ofelia Lopez said. “I have them working out three hours and I utilize my eight hours a week to coach them up, evaluate them and have our individual meetings.”
The contents of the meetings go far beyond the golf course. Lopez wants her athletes to be in the best state of mind in school and in their personal lives as well. In short, she calls her evaluations ‘time well spent.’
“I give them evaluations on grades, attitudes on the course and other things,” Lopez said. “I’m brutally honest with them. It’s one of those things where we want to get better on and off the course. We want to bring home those championships.”
Under Lopez’s tutelage, the Lady Broncs golf team won the Great West Conference championship in the school’s first year as a member in 2008-09.
She has also led the men’s team to their most recent championship at the America Sky Men’s Golf Conference in 2009-10 at the Los Lagos Golf Club in Edinburg.
This year though, the men have suffered from sub-par finishes in tournaments. Though the men have not won a tournament this year, Lopez is confident her guys can bounce back from a shaky start to the
“My guys started off with a rocky semester. In order for us for us to give ourselves a shot, we have to shoot even par,” Lopez said. “They are fairly young; we have two freshman guys that have travelled with us all year long, but we need to get better.”
An important aspect of improving is self motivation. In order for the Broncs to reach back to a championship level, they must prove it in the offseason.
“The offseason is when we have the most pride, we’ll have a mental game session where they play nine holes on one day,” Lopez said. “We set up their short game, and give them different drills to pump their swings.”
Currently, the only senior on the men’s roster is Santiago Bueno from Veracruz, Mexico.
The women, however, carry a bit more experience with four returning letterman, including Majo Camey, who holds the record at UTPA for shooting 69 in her very first tournament at the University of Cincinnati Invitational four years ago.
With that momentum and experience, Lopez believes the women can improve on last year’s GWC second-place finish and return to the championship form they held three years ago.
“Those veterans have been outstanding,” Lopez said. “Majo is such a great golfer and Sam Garcia, on any given day, can win tournaments. I want my girls to place individually, and I know we can compete.”
The women’s GWC championship is at Utah Valley on April 24-26, meanwhile the men’s America Sky Conference Championship is at Hartford, CT from April 29 – May 1.