RIO GRANDE VALLEY – For the last couple of years, the motto for The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Vaqueros Women’s golf team has been to trust the process and this fall could be the time the trust in the process starts to pay off.
“I am excited,” UTRGV Head Coach Bryan Novoa said. “I have seen discipline. I have seen drive, maturity, and I have seen growth. I am very optimistic about the fall season. They truly are engaged in the systems and processes that are in place. They are not just going through the motions . They are actually in touch and aware with them. They are starting to trust everything internally. They are starting to believe in themselves and that is a good place to be if you want to find success.”
This season, the Vaqueros will have some experience on the team with four upperclassmen and some sophomores who saw plenty of action a year ago.
The experience is valuable, but the trust and self-belief is just part of the equation.
“I would say not only the experience, but they have been able to process the why we do what we do,” Novoa said. “A professional approach brings professional results. We are attempting to train them at that elite level. They are a Talented group of young ladies. Self-belief and drive are everything. They have that formula in place, and I think they have a chance to go and do something. We are raising the bar and they are a part of it.”
The Vaqueros have been on the grind since September 2 when practices began. They have been battling the rain and the heat and humidity.
The Qualifying process leading up to the first tournament have been a little different so far and have been used to put the student-athletes in different environments that will allow them to develop the areas in their game that need improvement.
Each individual refinement will help make the team better moving forward.
“Right now, we are going through a rigorous qualifying process,” Novoa said. “I did five rounds over two weeks and the stamina factor with this heat and humidity is huge. We are trying to find our points of where we can improve and then putting our practice plans together to improve in those areas. What we are doing is trying to create environments with the rounds that they are playing where we can see what areas need the work. All this work so we can lower individual averages and then that will lower our team average from last year.”
The belief by Coach Novoa and Assistant Coach Paola Cortes-Ortiz is that if the team continues to master the process, then the results they have waited for will begin to show this fall.
The better they become at their processes and systems then the better they will play and that brings a lot of excitement to the team this season.
“I want us to become Masters of our own systems,” Novoa said. “I really believe when we master our systems, then success will happen. Last year, I would say we were at 70-80 percent. This year if we are at 90-95 percent then it’s going to be a great season. I am excited about that.”
The Vaqueros welcome back eight from last year’s squad, including the five that played at the Western Athletic Conference Championship in senior Julie LucioJuniors Sophia Tejeda, Mercedes Vegaand Samantha Garzaand sophomore Maria Jose Ramirez.
With the Improvements of Catherine Flores, Madi Ozunaand Mason Rawls along with the addition of Jackie Howard Gonzalez give the Vaqueros depth and more options this fall.
Having the depth, to go along with experience, will have the Vaqueros in good shape this season.
“It is interesting because I have the five Returners that played the conference championship,” Novoa said. “The whole team has improved heading into the fall. Everyone on the team is raising their bar and our depth has definitely improved. Our crew that played conference and that is used to the rigors of traveling, they already know what to do and we have our notes from last year, so we have everything lined up for success this fall, we just need to let it happen.”
The season will kick off at the Huntsville Toyota Bearkat Invitational before teeing it up at the NM State Aggie Invitational, Pat Bradley Invitational, and closing out with a Match Play event against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
This season, Coach Novoa wants the results to come because he knows how hard the team is working. He believes that the scores will start to come down and that the Vaqueros will put themselves in spots to maybe come away with a win or two.
The program has been moving in that direction since last season when they competed at the Islander Classic and Coach Novoa would like to see more of that this season.
“I want to say we can average below a 305 this season,” Novoa said. “That would be a major leap if you are talking one and a half shots per player from last year. We did play in some tough conditions last year, but the stroke average was a little higher than what I wanted. That would be the number one tell of improvement but the other one is I think some of our girls can win some individual tournaments and then getting into contention. We tasted a little bit in Corpus last year. We played well at conference, but we didn’t have a good outcome. I think that we can get to a place where we start getting into contention and having a chance at lifting a Trophy this year. For me, the process will take care of everything, and I am not going to change my tune on that .”
The fall season will come and go quickly with just four events. The Vaqueros will continue to put in the hard work this fall to get the best out of in preparation for the spring.
“I am excited,” Novoa said. “We have five and a half weeks left and for the last four weeks we have been grinding. We are going to keep on. On November first, we can relax a little bit but until then we are going to keep on swinging.”
The Vaqueros are excited about what is to come this season and if things fall into place then it will be a fun fall season.
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