By Jordan Christian
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Nicole Vandermade is only a sophomore for the Texas women’s golf team, but teammates and coaches alike already rely on her as a veteran leader.
Last year, when the Longhorns became the highest seed at the NCAA West Regional Championship to advance to the national championship tournament, Vandermade was a freshman playing among seniors.
She used the opportunity to soak up experience and Vandermade flourished, leading UT in scoring average as a rookie. Now, she’s the sage among a roster that’s dotted with five freshmen.
“It is a completely different feel from last year, because everyone was a senior and I was the youngest,” Vandermade said. “Now I’m one of the oldest traveling, and it is a different energy and different people. But it definitely feels good, and it is a good change to have.”
The young player from Canada always had dreams of coming to the states to play sports. Vandermade feels like she is now in the midst of that dream, and embraces the unusual opportunity of being the leader of a team at a very young age.
Vandermade has played an instrumental role in helping third-year Head Coach Martha Richards execute her vision for the future of Texas women’s golf.
“Martha had a plan to bring this team back to where it was in the 1990s and early 2000s,” Vandermade said. “When we are in practice and in a day-to-day environment we don’t really think about the long term. When we step back, we have already improved our rankings from two or three years ago, and this program has no where to go but up.”
The overall young atmosphere on the team gives Vandermade a chance to be a principle player as a sophomore and strive for one of her longtime goals.
“It was always my goal to play young, and when Martha came and recruited me on the basis that I can come here, help make a difference in this program and be a part of a change for Texas, I saw an opportunity,” Vandermade said. “It is a role I am comfortable in. It is fun and all of the girls are easy to get along with. I think it is a good fit for our team.”
Golf makes for a unique college sport, because individual results make up the team result. The Longhorns enjoy the opportunity of competing and working together to attain future goals.
“At the end of the day, if you perform well the team will, too, because we all feed off of and support each other,” Vandermade said. “We want to light the tower and make our actions speak. We want to win and bring this program up and show that Texas is on the rise.”