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ND Women’s Golf: Veltri directs squad in transition period

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, September 5, 2006

During a fairly tumultuous period following the resignation of former coach Debby King and before the hiring of current coach Susan Holt – Notre Dame found a source of stability in three individuals.

The team relied upon the constant guidance of assistant coach Kyle Veltri and the leadership of sophomore Lisa Maunu and senior Noriko Nakazaki.

“[Coach Veltri] has constantly been there for us for anything that we need,” Maunu said. “She’s always there for us.”

Veltri joined the Irish before the 2005 season after graduating from Saint Mary’s in 2001. In between graduation and earning her job at Notre Dame, Veltri worked as an assistant golf professional at the Palmer Course at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, West Virginia. Her experience organizing events has come in handy recently.

“She’s done so much during this time,” Nakazaki said. “She was so busy. She’s helped out in practices and organized our tournament schedule.”

Veltri will continue to lead Notre Dame until Holt takes over Sept. 23 for the Notre Dame Invitational. She was overwhelmed by her team’s reception of her leadership.

“They’re a great group of kids and they deserve everything they get,” Veltri said. “I really can’t put into words how I feel about them. I’m very fortunate to be around this team.”

Nakazaki and Maunu have been particularly important in helping the three freshmen – Annie Brophy, Julie Kim and Kristen Wetzel – adjust to not only the coaching situation, but also to college life.

“It’s always difficult when you step into college and [Coach King’s] resignation came as a shock,” Wetzel said. “But it’s been nice to have the girls around to help us out and Coach Veltri has always been really supportive and you need that in a new environment.”

Veltri called Maunu and Nakazaki “role models” for Wetzel and the freshmen.

“I’ve been really impressed with how they and the freshmen have handled the situation,” Veltri said.

“When you’re in the junior national tournaments in high school, you’re playing for yourself. But in college you play for the team, so you can’t quit because your score can count no matter what and Lisa and Noriko have really helped the freshmen in this area and in managing the course out here.”

Maunu posted a 79.81 scoring average last year, while Nakazaki had five top-10 finishes including a tie for first at the Notre Dame Invitational last fall. She plans on qualifying for the LPGA Future’s Tour in November.

“They both played a competitive summer schedule,” Veltri said. “They come into the fall season well prepared to compete. They’ve done well in qualifying. It’s Noriko’s senior year and I expect great things out of her.”

Last week the team met to discuss the upcoming season. And being a senior captain, Nakazki outlined not only her personal hopes for the season – but also what she’d like to see the team accomplish in her final year.

“Our goals are to be ranked in the top-30, a [sub]-300 scoring average in tournaments and to make it to NCAA Regionals,” Nakazki said. “We were disappointed when we didn’t make it last year. But those are our goals and not Coach Holt’s, so they’re subject to change.”

The Irish open the season Sept. 11 at the Cougar Classic in Charleston, S.C.