Watch the CSU Bakersfield golf team play and you'll notice they're different. From their easy going antics on the course to their coach who's heard it all before. "Are you the women's coach? The assistant or their sister?" said 2nd year men's golf coach Meggan Bunker of people's questions at tournament. "Like who are you?"
A former standout at Centennial, she doesn't care if she's breaking the mold as a female coaching a men's team. She's the perfect reflection of a program that's just different.
In the summer of 2010, CSUB made a big decision by cutting funding to three sports programs. While girls tennis has disappeared completely, wrestling has flourished as a self funded program that has had several NCAA qualifiers. That third sport, was golf.
This year the women's team had a record setting season. Junior Tori Peers set the new 18 hole scoring mark by posting a 71 (-1) while the Runners set a new team low of 303 (+15). Peers (6th, +14) and junior Ariel Lee (7th, +16) were also the first two Runners to ever finish in the top 10 at the WAC Championship. "I think it just takes enough opportunities of getting yourself in that position to finally understand mentally that you're capable of doing it," Peers said of her success.
For Meghan Thomason, CSUB's director of golf/ women's head coach, that success is a little sweeter because the team is self funded. "The budget is always in the back of your mind," she said. "Not even the back of your mind, the front of your mind."
While every player gets some sort of scholarship, Thomason calls them "peanuts" compared to the other WAC schools. But her big issue comes with scheduling. "We're not planning around where we feel like we can compete or where we fell like we can win, we're planning on where we can drive to tournament," she said.
The program relies on fundraisers and private donors to stay afloat which does provide some players with a unique opportunity. Julia Stewart, a junior on the women's team, has sold a number of her own pieces of art at the team's fundraiser. "I raised about $1,300 last year with my art so that was pretty exciting," she said.
Before the big fundraiser, the men's team still has business to take care of in their own WAC Championship. "We show up as the underdog but that's alright," said junior Nathan Green.
"We're just out there competing against other teams," Bunker said. "We don't know what they get, we don't know what their budget is but we work as hard as we can no matter what." An attitude that reflects the sport of golf itself; playing your shot no matter how bleak the situation may be, and moving on to the next. "It's a process that's for sure," Thomason said. "It doesn't happen overnight but we're doing our best."
The golf fundraiser is a dinner /silent auction scheduled Friday, May 12th at 6:00 PM. For more information on sponsorships/tickets, Thomason can be reached at email@example.com.
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