STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - The pandemic has left athletic departments across the country having to make difficult decisions when it comes to allocating funds, so the Georgia Southern women’s golf team is looking to Eagle nation for support.
Last spring the Eagles women’s golf team was set to play the Red Rocks Invitational at Oak Creek Golf Club in Sedona, Arizona, but the season was cut short because of COVID-19.
Typically they don’t play on the West Coast, but they were invited back — and with a strong field — they’re hoping to go compete.
The invitational is scheduled during spring break, but rather than a typical college get-away the Eagles are ready to tee-off.
“We don’t have as much stress with school and we can really focus on competing, and I mean, who wouldn’t want to go out to Arizona with all your friends and teammates? So it’s a win-win,” Sarah Noonan, a senior on the women’s team.
Georgia Southern has launched an online fundraising campaign, hoping to send the entire team out west.
Pre-pandemic, they used to do a team-bonding weekend — but since that too was cancelled, they’re hoping to see the Grand Canyon or take a Jeep tour while they are there.
“We have a real opportunity to do some team bonding, so raising some money for that, we have to do all of these experiences that we might not have the opportunity to do if we weren’t coming with golf, and I think for a lot of us, it’s probably one of the only trips we’ll do out there, so we just want it to be as special as possible,” Ella Ofstedahl, a senior on the women’s team.
Head Coach Emily Kuhfeld said the team bonding would be crucial just weeks before the conference tournament, and the different style of play in the desert would challenge the team’s skills. More than that, it’s a reward for the hard work, like when the football teams get to partake in bowl week activities. It’s something special for the athletes.
“We do have about a third of the team that’s never been on an airplane, so I think they’re kind of nervous about that, and all the girls are like, ‘it’s ok’ and it’s cute trying to talk them out of the anxiety over flying, but this will be like, life-changing. This will be one of those things that the girls will remember,” said Kuhfeld.
Since the pandemic has caused such a financial strain on athletic budgets, the fundraiser is also helping the Eagles with some uniform, equipment and facility needs.
The Eagles are hosting the Strutter Gus Invitational Sunday and Monday in Statesboro and they hope to have some local fan support out on the course to help make it a success and an annual event.