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SMC Golf: Saint Mary’s highly ranked by golf digest

Dorner, Becki | Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Princeton. Yale. Harvard. These are just a few of the world-renowned universities with whom Saint Mary’s finds itself ranked in a new Golf Digest article.

The national publication recently released its annual ranking of top schools for female student-athlete golfers. Saint Mary’s was ranked third, behind Princeton and Yale, in the list that noted schools where the student-athletes are “excellent students first, golfers second, [providing] the absolute best education and an opportunity to play.”

Harvard and Trinity (Texas) rounded out the top-five. Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) rival Trinity College joins the Belles as the only other Division-III Team to earn top-five honors.

Factors considered in the rankings were adjusted scoring average, player growth, academics, climate, coaches and facilities. Saint Mary’s earned the highest possible marks for academics, followed closely by player improvement. Saint Mary’s had higher marks than Yale, Dartmouth, Brown and Penn for its academics.

Saint Mary’s athletic director Lynn Kachmarik was pleased with the new rankings.

“Everyone associated with our golf program and entire athletic program has been working hard for years to bring this kind of credibility and national recognition to SMC,” she said. “I have never been more excited or proud to be at Saint Mary’s then I am right now.”

Saint Mary’s has enjoyed unprecedented success from its student-athlete golfers in the past both on the course and in the classroom. In 2003, Saint Mary’s golfer Stefanie Simmerman became the college’s first national champion when she captured individual medalist honors. More recently, Megan Mattia finished No. 18 last year at the NCAA Championships after winning MVP honors for the MIAA conference.

Belles coach Mark Hamilton has led the team to four consecutive conference titles as the team maintains its rigorous academic standards. He said he has seen Saint Mary’s progress during his tenure “to the point that the combination of athletics and academics available is virtually one of the finest offerings in the country.”

Kachmarik notes that all of the Belles’ teams had collective GPAs of between 3.1 and 3.48 with goals for this year of 3.2 to 3.6. Incredibly, many of the Belles have become even more than student-athletes, uniting to become powerful forces in the community. Kachmarik said the Saint Mary’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council, which is made up of two student-athletes from every team, is one of the strongest in the country.

Every team has either two or three service projects and the women combine to host such events as Halloween party for children from the Logan Center and Valentine’s party for children from Memorial Hospital.

Senior golfer Katie O’Brien said playing golf for the Belles has taught her more than simply skill in the sport.

“It has shown me how to manage time, deal with different types of people and be a leader not only on the course, but also in the classroom,” O’Brien said. “Since I enjoy golf so much, it is easy for me to find time to fit it in to my school schedule.”

Saint Mary’s has gone from eighth to fourth in the MIAA overall standings in the last seven years, but Kachmarik hopes the athletic program as a whole can follow the lead of the golf team and continue to improve.