April 22, 2014
Coach Jan Dowling has had a busy year during her first season at the helm of the University of Michigan women's golf program, and as she wraps up her first season in Ann Arbor, she is preparing for her first-ever trip to the Big Ten Championships this weekend (April 25-27) in French Lick, Ind. After a four-tournament fall season and a spring schedule, which featured five events, her team feels ready and focused heading to the postseason conference tournament. Aside from juggling postseason preparation with the team's hefty academic load as finals approach, she has helped bring transfer student Julia Montgomery into the fold as well. Coach Dowling took a moment to speak with MGoBlue.com to reflect on her first season in Ann Arbor and the upcoming Big Ten Championships.
On incoming transfer Julia Montgomery ... "We are very excited to have Julia join our program. She stands for exactly what we're looking for in student-athletes and one of her top qualities is that she's passionate about the game of golf and her actions prove that. She has produced a very competitive schedule for the summer, getting herself ready. She is going to bring a great amount of depth and I think that she's going to come in and work hard and set a pretty serious tone for the team next year."
On how the team handles a long break before postseason play ... "It's been an overall positive two weeks for us. This is a very busy time of year. Our tournament schedule in March was very intense and we traveled a lot, so it was great for us to get back and work on some fundamentals in our game and feel confident about our ball-striking and our short games here at home. Additionally, it's been quite a difficult time academically, so it's been nice for them to be able to be at home and sleep in their own beds, and see tutors and teachers and get themselves sorted before we leave for Big Tens. Overall, I believe it's been a good two weeks and they've had good training sessions every day to get themselves ready."
On reflecting on the team's progress and how inherited seniors have made her transition easier ... "I think the team's come a long way in many areas in a very positive direction. The team has done everything we've asked them to do and many of them have implemented the changes we've worked with them on and they've been on board with the entire process. We've spent some great individual time with our student-athletes and I believe they've gotten better. I think three of our five starters have improved their scoring averages, with one of them remaining close to the same and Grace (Choi) as a new player, so they've definitely improved both mentally and physically and that's what we're trying to do. If we can get a little better every day, every month, every semester, we're going to slowly creep to the top. To build a great program it takes time and I sure feel lucky that we inherited the group we did because they've helped to set the tone. There has been no resistance whatsoever and they've jumped on board, from our senior class right down to our freshmen, so that makes all the difference in the world. They represent our university very, very well no matter where we go. We're going to continue to work on it every day and compete as hard as we can every time we tee it up."
On a different approach to postseason play, especially the Big Ten Championships ... "My philosophy as a coach is that we've been training since Sept. 1 for this tournament, so we're not going to approach Big Tens or the postseason any other way than the way we've approached any other tournament. That's where the accumulation of your effort really shows up. I'm excited to compete; it's always great to see all the Big Ten teams in one place. That only happens once a year and it's a very special event. I'm excited to be competing in my first Big Ten Championship as well -- and we've got a very competitive league of teams -- so if you're competing for a Big Ten championship you're probably one of the best teams in the country and that's a heck of a way to measure yourself."
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Contact: Chad Shepard