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ND Women’s Golf: Irish coach Holt puts emphasis on recruiting future

Jack Hefferon | Tuesday, August 30, 2011

When taking over a new program, Division I coaches are usually not assessed — positively or negatively — on the talent of players they inherited from a previous staff. They often bring in “their players” before being judged.

But Irish coach Susan Holt has reeled in top prospects from the recruiting trail to build success with both the old and the new during her five years at the helm.

“We have a great package to offer here at Notre Dame,” Holt said. “It allows us to recruit anybody and bring in the best golfers in the country.”

That success in recruiting was key for the Irish last season, as they claimed the Big East championship behind the strength of four former top-25 recruits. Senior captain Becca Huffer is the top returner from that team, and senior Katie Allare and sophomore Kristina Nhim are back as well. With only five golfers on the roster though, the team will have to rely heavily on their newest recruits, freshmen Ashley Armstrong and Kelli Oride.

“[Armstrong and Oride] have done a good job with the transition so far, but it’s been kind of hectic for them,” Holt said. “They haven’t even been here a week, and they’re still adjusting to the way we do things here. But we still expect them make the immediate impact we hoped they would.”

That learning process will have to be a speedy one, as Notre Dame’s fall schedule begins in less than three weeks at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. While the team gears up for play though, Holt will still be juggling between coaching her current players and recruiting her future ones. Right now, the emphasis in recruiting is on preparing to communicate with high school juniors.

“Sept. 1 is the big date right now, that’s when we can reach out to the class of 2013,” Holt said. “We’ve heard from a lot of them, but we haven’t been able to talk to them yet. We’ve been working hard on getting all the information that we’ll need then put it together.”

More immediate in the program’s future are this year’s high school seniors, who Holt still continues to recruit actively. While particular details on next year’s freshmen won’t be available for a few months, Holt and her staff have already gotten soft commitments from a couple of athletes.

“We’ve gotten two verbal commitments already, but we can’t talk about them or their impact until they sign in November,” Holt said.

With the success she has had in bringing athletes to Notre Dame, Holt appears to be building for the future on top of an already championship-winning foundation.

But she said the biggest factors in recruiting may have nothing to do with the coach.

“Over the past five years here we’ve brought in some of the best golfers in the country, and that makes other top golfers want to come here, too,” Holt said. “When you add in our great academic reputation and our great facilities, I think that makes us one of the best package deals in the country.”