RADFORD, Va. – The Virginia Tech women’s golf team held the first practice in the program’s history on Thursday, as head coach Carol Robertson and her two players gathered at the Pete Dye River Course practice facility for the first session.
The practice marked the end of a sometimes long 13-month wait for Robertson, who was hired in July of last year to head up the school’s first women’s golf program.
“Finally,” Robertson said. “When I was proud to accept this job, it should have – but it didn’t – occur to me that I would be here several months without players to coach. I miss it. I’ve missed it so much. It’s about these kids and the relationship you build with each of them, and it all starts the first few days. They’re finally here, which is good.”
Tech will not begin competition until the fall of next year – part of a plan by athletics department officials to give Robertson time to build the foundation of the program. She started by signing two players during the fall signing period last November –Amanda Hollandsworth and Allison Woodward. She added her first assistant coach, Russell Abbott, this past May.
Hollandsworth, a native of nearby Floyd, Virginia, and Woodward, who hails from Unicoi, Tennessee, will take redshirt years this academic year and still be eligible for the next four years. They will spend the next year getting ahead on their academic studies and working with Robertson and Abbott on their golf games.
“I think it will be weird not competing because I’m so used to competing, both fall and spring,” said Hollandsworth, the state champion in Group 2A last year. “But it will give me more of an edge to come out next year and compete and want to play that much more because I haven’t in so long.”
“It will be weird, to an extent, but that was a draw for me to come here,” Woodward said. “It gives you a year to get acclimated not only to school, but to all the other stuff you have going on. It was a very stressful week. A lot of my friends who are competing next week are like, ‘It’s just so crazy right now’, and I can kind of relax more. So this is a tremendous opportunity, and I feel blessed to have this redshirt year to practice up and see how good of a golfer I can become with all these tools around me.”
Hollandsworth and Woodward will be able to compete in any tournament separate of Virginia Tech, but their options will be limited because the school will not be allowed by the NCAA to pay any expenses, and also, because their class schedules figure to cut into their opportunities. But Robertson has plans to keep the two motivated, and one of them includes friendly competitions with the men’s golf team.
“Jay [Hardwick, the Tech men’s coach] and I have briefly talked about it, and he’s all for it,” Robertson said. “They’re pretty busy with their competitive season, but when they’re out of season in the late fall or early spring, we’ll be to do some of that. We’d like to have a little insider tournament to get the competitive juices flowing.
“It’s going to take some very creative thinking and motivational practices that Coach Abbott and I are going to have to come up to keep them motivated. Imagine a football team going and working out and doing all these things, and then ‘Sorry, you don’t get to bash people on Saturday.’ We have the same competitive spirit, and you want to go out and represent Virginia Tech and beat some people. So we’ll have to find a way to simulate that for this year.”
In addition to running practices this fall, Robertson plans hitting the recruiting trail pretty hard. She hopes to sign four in the fall signing period, as she continues building Tech’s program.
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