For the first time in its nine-year history, a member of the University of Richmond's women's golf team placed first in a team tournament.
Freshman Caroline Lovette, who said she had not even planned to play golf in college until her sophomore year in high school, won the Spider Fall Invitational tournament with a score of 2-over 146, and par on the first playoff hole.
"I played basketball all four years of high school," Lovette said. "It was my big sport. I thought I wanted to play college basketball, not golf, until my sophomore year in high school.
"I realized that golf was the sport that I could get somewhere with, do something with. So, I chose golf over basketball. I know what I want when it comes to sports."
Even though Lovette had not played in any of the team's previous tournaments, she took home the individual title on her debut. Lovette downplayed her victory, though.
"One day you could play lights-out and the next day you could have a bad day," Lovette said.
Lovette, of Davidsville, Pa., played as a high school freshman and sophomore at Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown, Pa., before transferring to the college-preparatory boarding school Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pa., for her remaining two years. She played both basketball and golf, dividing her time and energy between the two.
"Golf was kind of a side thing in high school because I was also playing basketball," Lovette said. "Now, the difference for me is that I am putting all my time and energy into golf rather than two sports."
Lovette excelled at golf long before joining the Richmond team. As a child, Lovette took lessons with a local golf pro and started playing in junior tournaments on the North East Junior Golf Tour.
"Our whole family plays golf," Lovette said. "I was really lucky that my parents started me when I was really young; I was only 7 years old. My dad was the first person who taught me how to swing. Everyone told me I had a good swing, and that's how it all started."
Lovette immediately became competitive with her older brother, Dan. It wasn't a typical sibling rivalry, though. They played in the NEJGT events and challenged each other as they advanced, sustaining their mutual aspirations and interest in golf. Now, as Lovette wins tournaments and trophies, her brother continues to support her.
"I really felt this sense of how proud he was of me whenever I won," Lovette said.
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In March, Lovette won her second Mid-Atlantic Prep League golf tournament title for Mercersburg. After high school graduation, Lovette played in summer tournaments, which she described as "the big junior tournaments that really, really good golfers play in."
Lovette said there was a huge difference between her high school golf team's dynamic and the women's golf team at Richmond.
"I've always played golf with the boys," Lovette said. "I've never played on an all-girls team. I was playing for myself at Mercersburg, more or less. I was the only girl on the team. What was special about the win ... was having that team there: all the girls and all of their support. I don't think I would have gotten that kind of support from the guys."
It was usually Lovette's parents and brother who offered all the hugs and congratulations.
"When I made my first hole-in-one, that was a triumph for me," Lovette said. "One of my parents always comes to watch me play - my mom came to this one. I couldn't even see the hole from where I was teeing off. I thought I must have gone over the green. Then I saw that the ball had gone in the hole; that was a great surprise!"
Lovette said her mom had cried when she made her hole-in-one and again when she won the playoff.
"My success means a lot to her," Lovette said.
Contact staff writer Elizabeth Hardy at email@example.com
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