Monday, May 23, 2011
NCAA title comes with a wave of emotions
By Peter Yoon
Glory Yang had dozens of text messages, scores of Facebook wall posts and saw hundreds of Tweets about UCLA winning the NCAA title in women's golf over the weekend--"more than on my birthday," she said--so imagine her surprise when she returned to class Monday and heard not a word about it from her classmates.
"Nobody knew," said Yang, the team's only senior starter. "They had no idea."
It only added to the surrealism for Yang, who said she still has a hard time believing that the Bruins won the title by four strokes over defending champion Purdue on Sunday in Texas.
"I have to keep looking at the picture of us holding the trophy," Yang said. "I have to keep reminding myself that we won, that we got it done, and I still I still tear up when I think about it."
It's not surprising, because the last 48 hours have been filled with every emotion in the book. UCLA started the final round with a seven-stroke lead over Purdue only to loose it midway through the final round. They rallied with a solid back nine and every UCLA player made par or better over the final four holes.
And when the final putt dropped with UCLA at the top of the leaderboard, the emotions came pouring out.
"I've felt every bit of emotion you can imagine," Yang said. "I was happy we won, I was sad because it was my last tournament. I felt a sense of accomplishment. It was all these mixed feelings. You say a word and I probably felt it."
For coach Carrie Forsyth, the preeminent feeling was relief.
Forsyth has led elite teams almost since her arrival at UCLA in 1999, and knows all too well how difficult it is to win a national title in golf, having won the 2004 title. But her teams have had three runner-up finishes and a third since then and last year finished sixth despite entering as the No. 1 team in the nation.
"It’s great to be in contention every season and have chances to win, it’s just feels really good to finally get it done," Forsyth said. "We’ve been bridesmaids quite a few times over the past few years with great teams—teams that were expected to win more than this team was so it just great. I’m relieved."
She's especially relieved because her team was able to fend off not only Purdue, but the dreaded text message jinx. Most women's golf tournaments are only three rounds, so when the Bruins finished the third round as tournament leaders, Forsyth received several texts and e-mails of congratulations.
"I had to write them saying we’ve actually got one more round to play," she said. "I hope you haven’t just jinxed us."
Forsyth didn't return to campus Monday and said she wouldn't make it there until Wednesday because she has "mommy duty." She has 4-year-old twin boys and a 2-year-old girl.
"My husband has been alone with them for a week," she said. "It's weird because you’re so amped up when you are at the tournament. You have all this nervous energy and then you win and you’re on a high, but for me, I’ve got to come back and go right back into mommy mode."
But she need not look far for a reminder of winning the title.
"The trophy is sitting on my dining room table," she said.
The trophy case at UCLA probably won't get too lonely while it waits for Forsyth to bring it to campus. Bruins teams have now won 107 NCAA titles--the most of any school in the country. Still, this is the first national title in any sport for UCLA this school year and you can imagine that with so national championships, UCLA is not used to going entire school years without one. It's only happened eight times since 1960.
"A lot of the other coaches sent me a text message or an e-mail of congratulations," Forsyth said. "UCLA is a unique place because we’re a bit spoiled in that we have so many championships. It’s kind of what you should be doing. There are universities out there that have great programs that have never won a national championship and here we are at 107. It’s nice when you can live up to that high expectation. Everybody takes notice when you win a championship."
Everyone, that is, except Yang's classmates.