The University of North Alabama has made quite a few changes to its sports programs this past year.
- All sports moved to Division I play
- Women’s Indoor and Outdoor Track was discontinued
- Women’s Beach Volleyball was added
- Women’s Golf was added
The Women’s Golf Program at UNA is made up of seven women from both Alabama and Arizona.
The team is excited about making history as the first Women’s Golf program at UNA.
Redshirt Sophomore, Emily Lankford, said she chose to move from Middle Tennessee State to UNA, because she’s a Huntsville native. She said she could not pass up the chance to be close to home.
“It’s incredible because it’s not an opportunity that people get very often, so it’s a really awesome opportunity,” Lankford said.
Neil Self is a first-time head coach as he steps into that role for this team.
Previously, Self was an assistant coach for the UNA Men’s Golf team. After the university asked him to help in the recruiting process, he said he was more than happy to accept the head coaching role when it was presented to him.
“It was just a progression of from something natural. I knew the facilities and knew the area, and then once I recruited these athletes, I knew them. And then just kind of naturally, I wanted to take over as head coach, and I was glad that was offered to me,” Self said.
Self said that the transition to the women’s team was an easy one for him, because everything is the same, “It’s just mechanics and psychology.”
The Lions competed in a two-day tournament in Clarksville, Tennessee earlier this week and finished ninth out of eleven teams.
Although it was not the outcome they hoped for, Self said he and his team were just happy to be competing against some top-caliber teams.
"It’s something that gives us hope. That we can compete. We’re not just out there to be the first women’s golf team at UNA. We’re out there to beat teams and compete. Hopefully we just keep getting better,” Self said about his team's performance at the Austin Peay State University F&M Bank Invitational.
One golfer stood out during that tournament, Junior, Wallace State Community College transfer, Annalee Stephens.
Stephens led all UNA golfers with rounds of 73, 76 and 78 for a 227 total.
“It was nerve racking, going from Ju-Co because the field's going to be tougher. But I was excited for it. I wasn’t expecting to play like that but somehow pulled it out,” Stephens said about her outing in Tennessee.
But even though golf is an individual sport, the Lions are all a team.
“I want UNA’s name, no matter who’s it is, to be up there in the top 5, top 10. I just want us to represent well. I don’t care who it is,” Stephens said.