July 16, 2012
By Mark Janssen
England, Thailand, Canada, Australia, Czech Republic and South Africa.
Kristi Knight says it’s this simple, “You have blinders on in women’s golf if you’re just looking for players in the United States. True, that’s where you do focus the most of your attention, but in women’s golf in the last seven to 10 years, coaches have started looking all over the world.”
Need proof? Look no further than the Big 12 Conference.
Of the top 10 overall finishers in the league championship, eight were natives of the aforementioned countries. Somewhat ironically, the other two came from the non-Big 12 state of Arkansas.
The current Kansas State women’s golf roster of Coach Knight has fallen in line with the rest of the league as four of the nine 2011-12 roster members came from outside the 50 states: Olivia Eliasson and Hanna Roos are from Sweden, Ami Storey is from the United Kingdom, and Laura Hildebrandt hails from Canada.
Those four join a roster of five Americans in Kristen Dorsey (Florida), Paige Osterloo (South Dakota), Carly Ragains (Texas), and Gianna Misenhelter and Whitney Pyle (Kansas).
“We have very good American players to choose from, but, especially if you’re a Midwest school, you have to look outside the country if you hope to be any kind of competitive,” said Knight.
Knight says it’s unusual not to receive an e-mail of interest to play at K-State from a foreign player several times a week.
One of those that occurred several years ago just happened to be Christine Boucher from Canada, who would end up finishing second in the 2002 Big 12 Championship, the highest ever for a Wildcat. She was also named the 2004 Big 12 Player of the Year.
“She was someone we recruited from an e-mail and a video tape,” said Knight.
The Wildcat coach would add, “They send tapes of their play and where they’ve played, and then you do follow-up work to see the types of courses that are holding these tournaments. In our high school system, tournaments are played on short courses. There are a lot of courses that are 5,400 yards, while the Big 12 Championship was at the Lawrence Country Club which was 6,300 (yards), and that’s not real long. So the type of course is really important.”
Of the foreign athlete, Knight added, “It’s a risk, but that’s what recruiting is. You just talk to a couple more people if they’re from out of the country.”
While a country like Canada wouldn’t seem all that suited to find a potential golf talent, Knight said, “They don’t play that many months out of the year, but Canada has a very active and solid junior program. Ontario is full of good golfers. It used to be only Midwestern schools or schools from the north that recruited Canada, but now schools from Texas are recruiting Canada hard.”
Knight added that Sweden was another country with an advanced junior program, which is the native country of Roos, K-State’s low shooter at the 2012 Big 12 Championship.
Knight added, “I went to Sweden to recruit in 2004, and while nothing materialized that year, it increased my e-mail traffic. By me being there, it caught the attention of Swedish coaches who saw the K-State logo.
“Junior golf is all over the world,” Knight continued. “Recruiting has changed. We have players coming from all over… Austria, Denmark, England, Italy and a lot of Spanish kids.”
Of the foreign student-athlete, Knight says coaches have found them to be just like recruiting golfers from close to home.
“Some dive right in and don’t miss a beat, while with others it takes some time to adjust to a new culture,” said Knight. “But overall, student-wise, they’ve done very well, and they have some maturity to them. Kids coming from a different country have a greater sense of independence and commitment. They’re making more of a commitment than the kid driving across a couple states to get to a school.”
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen or Kansas State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.