FROM LEFT: Coach Amy Ruengmateekhun, Aidan McLachlan, Elena Song, Hannah Ryan, Haley Rickman, and Courtney Kang. (Courtesy photo)
She also inherited a roster filled with talented young players who had never experienced the level of success necessary to return the program to prominence.
Several months later, the Bears believed in themselves as much as Ruengmateekhun did. And their confidence took it from there.
Ursuline dominated the TAPPS 6A state tournament, claiming the team title by 22 strokes while placing three golfers in the top 10 individually. How’s that for surpassing expectations?
“I saw we had so much talent on this team, I sensed we had a really good chance of winning state,” Ruengmateekhun said. “It was about getting relaxed and comfortable. Don’t stress over the bad rounds. Just believe you can perform. As we kept playing, everyone was getting better.”
The Bears were led at state by sophomore Courtney Kang, who fired a final-round 73 at Stonetree Golf Course in Killeen to take fifth place. Haley Rickman placed eighth, and Elena Song finished ninth.
[pullquote-left]“The key is having these girls enjoy the moment and realize where we got when we put in all this work.” -Amy Ruengmateekhun[/pullquote-left]
Ursuline won all of its spring competitions, including the TAPPS district and regional tournaments. At regionals, after a runner-up finish a year ago, the Bears stunned defending champion Plano Prestonwood, a perennial powerhouse.
“We definitely progressed,” said Song, a junior. “We were all so competitive throughout the season. We all try to push each other and make each other play better.”
Ruengmateekhun is the school’s third golf coach in the past three years. She came to Ursuline from Bishop Lynch, where she was an assistant under current Ursuline athletic director Susan Noonan. When Noonan became Ursuline’s top athletics administrator, she found a familiar face to coach the golf team.
Ruengmateekhun, a Garland native who played college golf at Oklahoma State, was competing professionally on the LPGA’s Symetra Tour when an injury last year prompted her to focus more on coaching. She’s also an instructor at Brookhaven Country Club.
She focused on the mental game with her Ursuline golfers, encouraging them to focus on each shot rather than worrying about an entire hole or round. The team also spent more practice time competing against each other on the course, instead of the driving range or putting green.
“It’s difficult even for professionals to stay calm all the time,” she said. “The key is having these girls enjoy the moment and realize where we got when we put in all this work.”