Women’s golf: Big East Champions

What do you get when you combine a third-year program, a first-year head coach, and a lot of heart?

As demonstrated this past year by the St. John’s women’s golf team, this is apparently the winning formula for a Big East Championship.

In just its infant stages, the program has gone on to win the Big East Championship, played this past April in South Bend, Ind., in winter-like conditions which included snow and wind gusts raging up to 33 miles per hour.

Once the storm cleared, head coach Ambry Bishop was named Big East Coach of the Year, while senior Jaclyn Sanders was honored as part of the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America University Division Women’s at-large third team. Sanders was also named the St. John’s University 2004-05 Big East/Aeropostale Female Scholar-Athlete.

Four golfers were named to the Big East All-Tournament team: junior Christin Thomson, freshman Brittany Lambertson, senior Jennifer Rhee and Sanders.

Aside from the Big East win, the squad also won several tournaments throughout the year, including the Mount Holyoke Invitational, the Rutgers Invitational, the Bucknell Fall Classic, and the Hartford Invitational.

Yet, while the team’s success on the course had been quite impressive to say the least, their accomplishments away from the green were even more notable. Sanders, who graduated in May, finished her scholastic career with a 3.99 grade-point average, juggling a double-major in English and sports management.

She is the first women’s golfer in St. John’s history to be named an Academic All-American.

Lambertson, a local product from Northport, N.Y. is perhaps best known for her charity work. She has been instrumental in the fight against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, organizing various golf clinics throughout Long Island.

After her high school science teacher David Deutsch had been diagnosed with the disease, Lambertson stepped to the plate, driven by the need to “really try to save him, which is something I think we still can do.”

All proceeds from Lambertson’s tournaments go to a college fund set up for Deutsch’s sons, Andrew, four, and Ethan, one.

After stories such as these, it is no wonder that the team was able to battle through horrid conditions in South Bend. While other competitors openly expressed their frustrations, St. John’s battled through.

“The weather made it fair game,” Thomson said. “We knew that it wasn’t going to be called off and we basically kept our heads down.”

“The night before [Bishop] said, ‘Girls, we know it’s going to be bad. It’s bad for everyone. Let’s keep positive attitudes,’” Sanders said.

In the end, the Johnnies shot a 41-over par 329 after the first and final round of play. The tournament had been shortened to only 18 holes, because of the inclement weather, giving St. John’s the crown.

Still, it seems as if the championships are just icing on the cake. The real stories which should be applauded are those of Lambertson, Sanders, and the determination of the entire St. John’s women’s golf team.

And this is just the beginning.