Kansas Student-Athlete Spotlight: Meghna Bal
May 10, 2011
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Imagine sitting under a tunnel excited, nervous and anxious all at the same time while waiting for your country's name to be called over the speakers. The atmosphere alone is enough to consume you and take you to a place that many have only dreamed of going. You finally hear your country's name being called over the speaker at the Asian Games. As you approach the front of the tunnel you see bright lights, people cheering and yelling while you are representing your country's colors saffron, white, and dark green.
Instantly a feeling of pride, belonging, and unity about your country has taken over because not only are you representing your country, but you are also playing against some of the top athletes in world. Some of these athletes will later go on to compete in the Olympics and win gold medals for their countries. This is not a fictitious story, but what University of Kansas senior golfer Meghna Bal has experienced.
The Delhi, India native has experienced a great deal of success in her short time in the United States. Bal has been named to the Academic All -Big 12 team for three years in a row. Bal competed in the Kansas lineup in all 11 events, averaged 76.88 strokes per round as a senior, tied third at the Claud Jacobs Invitational, fourth in the Chip-N Club Invitational and tied 28th at the Big 12 Championship behind a season best of 224.
Teammate Katy Nugent is not shy about attributing the team's success to the senior leadership of Bal. Nugent understands that Bal has had a substantial amount of experience under her belt and believes that Bal is able to transfer her success from playing all over the world to her game at KU.
"Bal has played all over the world and has been to over 20 different countries," said Nugent. "She has so much passion about playing golf. She has a lot of experience under her belt and is able to transfer her experience and success playing oversees to our team. I have never met someone that has played in so many different places, but she always has great stories about different cultures to tell us."
However, Bal has not always had the love and passion for golf that she now possesses. When Bal first started playing golf, she had a lot of mixed feelings about it. However, her father would not let her give up so easily. Bal's father was resilient in his desire to get his daughter to share the same love and passion for golf that he possessed.
"I started playing golf when I was four. My dad had to drive my brother and me to the golf course in India but at that time I actually hated golf," Bal said. "I first started playing seriously when my dad took my brother and me to South Africa for a few months to train. After that trip, I fell in love with golf."
Bal attributes her success to her father and believes that if he had not pushed her to be successful she would not be where she is today. Although Bal has lived in this country for six years, it was not easy adjusting to living in the United States compared to her home in India.
"It is night and day, especially in the Midwest. Indian culture is really different from American culture. When people graduate from college they stay with their families until they get married," said Bal. "Labor is very cheap in India and most people in the big cities have maids. So when I came to the States I did not know how to cook.
"Delhi is very westernized, but people are very polite here in the United States. They would never hold a door for you in Delhi like they do in the United States. In Delhi they would let the door shut in your face."
She admitted that it was a bit of a culture shock initially, but with the help of her teammates and coaching staff, she was able to make a smooth transition. Bal came to this country for better opportunities and independence and felt that the University of Kansas was an excellent fit for her.
"I wanted a better opportunity to get an education and play golf at the same time," Bal said. "You can play golf and get an education in India, but one must take precedence over the other where I am from. Both are very important to me."
"I really liked Lawrence and how it has a Bohemian feel to it. I thought it was very pretty and I loved how much history and tradition the school has. I could have not been happier with my decision to come to KU. I love my coaches, teammates, and the staff here has helped me so much."
Nugent believes that although she and her teammates have helped Bal adjust to the United States culture, Bal's leadership has helped her game develop.
"She is always pushing everybody to practice and get better every day. She has personally helped me improve and her experience alone has helped us tremendously," said Nugent. "Bal is a great leader but also has a funny side to her as well. We call Bal the 'doctor' because she takes so many vitamins in the morning. She takes fish oil vitamins, Vitamin C, D, and multi-vitamins."
Although, Bal the "doctor" has a funny side to her, she is able to put her "game face" on when on the course and is ready to get better every day. Bal's leadership has helped her team tie for second place at the Chip-N Club Invitational and defeat runner-up Arkansas-Little Rock at the Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational this season. Bal feels that she demonstrates very important values as a leader.
"I think that leading by example, honesty and hard work are important values that I demonstrate as a leader," said Bal. " I define success based on winning, perseverance and having a positive attitude. I try to instill a good attitude and hard work with my teammates every day."
Even though her time is almost up as a Jayhawk, Bal will never forget what it means to have Jayhawk pride and wants to give back to her newfound community as much as she can before she goes back home to India.
"My experience here has been great. I want people to know that I gave it my best when I was here and that I worked really hard to represent my family, friends, and university," said Bal. "I have started walking dogs at the Humane Society because I want to give back to community that has given me so much."
Bal desires to compete professionally in Europe when she is done at Kansas. However, she will never forget the memories she has made with her teammates, coaches, and friends at the University of Kansas.