Season preview: GVSU women's golf entering spring season 'mentally tough'
The Grand Valley State Kelly Family Sports Center is used to welcoming big track meets, lively and hard-fought lacrosse games, or even intense intramural plays. But today seems different.
There is no sound. No loud and angry father arguing with the referee. No uproar from the crowd to compliment a good play. There is just silence. Silence everywhere, as if it took the building hostage.
On the turf stand seven members of the GVSU women's golf team holding golf clubs as if they were about to swing, looking at the ball, immobile. The coaches and trainers are nearby, observing what’s taking place. One of the trainers tosses a golf ball in the direction of one of the golfers, hoping to get a reaction. Nothing.
This offseason has been quite unorthodox for the women of the Laker golf team. According to head coach Rebecca Mailloux, mental strength became a focal point of the women’s training.
“Every Monday we had a different theme: confidence, course management and playing under pressure,” Mailloux said. “Everybody can work on their swings and perfect some aspect of the game, but those who spend time deep diving into what their weaknesses are mentally and changing some behaviors and patterns is really the difference maker.”
The goal of this unique way of training is to get ready for any scenario that can take place during a tournament. According to Mailloux, it’s easy to get into one’s head as a tournament unfolds. The negative self-talk is one of the major aspects Mailloux has tried to teach her golfers to get away from.
“They are all very competitive, and when they have this idealistic round in their mind and when it doesn’t go that way, they get beat up a little bit, and the negative talk gets out of control," she explained.
The mental training is one aspect of the women’s routine, but there is still an 18-hole course to be conquered at the end of the day. According to senior Samantha Moss, strength became an asset for both herself and most of her teammates.
The golfers practiced five to six days a week while hitting the gym at least three times a week.
“(Jacob Meissner), our strength and conditioning intern, he has really helped us get stronger, and a lot of girls have been getting more distance with all their clubs,” Moss said.
Over spring break, GVSU had the chance to showcase their power in a tournament down in Wesley Chapel, Florida. The team won the tournament, but sophomore Maria Sol Pose lost in a playoff round to win the individual trophy.
“The first two days, nobody played their best,” Moss said. “Our expectations weren’t too crazy, but I think a lot of the girls handled themselves pretty well out there.”
GVSU lost several players this past season, and Moss did not think this year would go the way it has so far. Being the only senior of the team, Moss had to become a leader both on and off the course, and she’s accepted that responsibility with open arms. However, one thing is missing to complete her trophy case.
“I definitely want to win a collegiate tournament," Moss said. "I haven’t been able to do that yet, but I am on the right track to make it happen this year."
Her ambitions go beyond a single tournament for her team, and both Moss and Mailloux are excited to see what this team could do on the national stage.
“They determine their course of success as the year goes on, how hard do they want to work and do they believe that they can do it," Mailloux said. "'Cause ultimately they have the talent to do it. We’ve seen the best competition in Division II, and I put this team against anybody in Division II."