Nov. 23, 2011
By Joanne C. Gerstner
Cheryl Stacy has come to understand she has a bit of a split identity, depending on where she is. These days, people recognize her as the successful head coach of the Michigan women's golf team for the past three seasons.
Those who have known Stacy for a bit longer, back to her college days, remember her as a golf star for Ohio State from 1983-85. She grew up as one of the best prep golfers in Ohio, starring on Findlay High's boys' team because girls' teams had yet to be fielded.
Stacy proudly embraces her Ohio and Buckeye past but is clearly in a Maize and Blue frame of mind in the present.
"I would never have thought that when I was at Ohio State I would end up coaching at Michigan, but you never can guess where golf and life takes you," Stacy said. "You're a Buckeye fan automatically, I think, when you grow up in Ohio. You're kind of brainwashed into that. But I don't think it took me much time at all before I totally felt at home here at Michigan and was in the swing of being a Wolverines' fan."
Stacy grew up in a family that loved sports and Ohio State. She remembers her parents and their friends holding big viewing parties for Michigan-Ohio State football games, with everybody -- save for one -- cheering for the Buckeyes.
Stacy, who is a middle child sandwiched between her golf-playing brothers Greg and Eric, was always amused by Eric's antics. He chose to be the contrarian in the sea of Ohio State fans at a young age, by openly cheering for Michigan.
Eric now has his own family, and has transferred his love of the Wolverines to his kids. Greg remains a staunch Ohio State fan but admits to Stacy that he's a good older brother and will cheer for her golf team to do well -- except against the Buckeyes.
Stacy has gotten more into the football rivalry since she came to Ann Arbor, as she's able to attend a lot of football games with recruits. Her time was a lot more limited when she was a student at Ohio State, thanks to golf and studies, meaning she didn't see many football epics at the Horseshoe.
She saw more basketball games, because it worked well with her schedule and she loved the game. Stacy was also recruited to play basketball at Ohio State, with a then-green coach named Tara VanDerveer wanting her to play guard. Stacy chose golf, and went on to help the Buckeyes win three Big Ten titles.
She also was the first golfer in OSU women's history to earn All-America honors. She was inducted into Ohio State's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000, in the same class as fellow Buckeye-turned-Michigan-coach Leisa Rosen; OSU honored Rosen for her volleyball accomplishments.
Stacy said she received a valuable piece of advice in her first days on staff at Michigan, from former Wolverine football star Jamie Morris. He reminded her to get rid of everything green (Michigan State) and red (Ohio State) from her closet, because that's the Michigan way.
She followed his instructions, but it seems brother Greg didn't get Morris' memo. Stacy was at a tournament in Cincinnati, looking to recruit some players, and staying at Greg's house by the golf course. She was ready to go out to the course, clad in her Michigan golf gear and armed with a notepad to jot down some evaluations. Greg came downstairs, and it was clear he was ready to go with Stacy.
"He was wearing Ohio State stuff from head to toe, had a little notepad too, joking he was ready to go out and recruit too," Stacy said, laughing. "He looked pretty official too; he had all the right clothes on. He's a golfer; I bet he could have fooled some people. That was his way of making fun of me being with Michigan. He went back upstairs and changed, he made his joke, and we went to watch some play."
Sibling antics aside, Stacy has things straight regarding the two schools. She counts herself lucky to have gotten to meet legendary coach Bo Schembechler before he passed away in 2007. She's developed a deep love for the Ann Arbor area, the campus atmosphere at Michigan, and the academic opportunities she can offer student-athletes.
"It's pretty simple in my mind: Ohio State was a fantastic experience that I am very grateful for. A lot of good things happened there for me," Stacy said. "And now, I am very grateful for Michigan, seeing all the things we can do here and the wonderful place this is. I think I am actually lucky, because not too many people can get to be associated with two great schools like this. They're two schools with a wonderful history, and both with really passionate fans."
Michigan/Ohio State Rivalry
Michael O'Neill: A Buckeye, Yankee Fan Makes the Move to Ann Arbor
Leisa Rosen: From Wasilla to Columbus to Ann Arbor