PROVO -- The BYU Women's Golf Team has taken a drink from the Fountain of Youth.
With the graduation of three starting seniors in May 2002, September brought a new look to the women's golf team. All of a sudden the team consists of two juniors, two sophomores, and four freshmen with another on the way in January.
The team roster includes: juniors Nicole Newren and Sarah Bridges; sophomores Natalie Newren and Margaret Gibby; and freshmen Symantha Mendenhall, Danielle von Arnim, Audrey Brownell, Brooke Lacy and the new edition Catalina Guacaneme.
"The strength of the team lies in its youth," says BYU head coach Sue Nyhus. "With three seniors leaving last season, my plan was to add more depth to the team by bringing in more freshmen."
And Nyhus did just that. Of the ten players on the team, five are freshmen and none are seniors. With this young team, Nyhus and assistant coach Dave DeSantis' hopes are to create so much depth on the team that each of the girls will be greatly competitive with each other.
"Depth is the secret to motivation," Nyhus says. "And the more depth there is the more competition there will be."
A traveling team of five players competes in each tournament. Nyhus intends on the competition of the young team to motivate her players to work harder and smarter in order to make the traveling five. Thus, competition will increase in the qualifying at home, which will, inherently, lower team scores at tournaments.
And although the team is young, experience and leadership is not lacking.
"Our juniors Nicole Newren and Sarah Bridges are great leaders along with our two co-captains Natalie Newren and Margaret Gibby," Nyhus says.
Gibby has already started off the year with a tremendous fall season. She clenched her first top 10 finish in the first tournament of the season at Oregon State. Of the five fall tournaments, Gibby finished four of them in the top 20 individually. Two of those four finishes were top 10 finishes and a third was an 11th place finish. Gibby leads the team with the lowest tournament scoring average of 75.9.
"Margaret has really turned it on this semester," Nyhus says. "Her hard work with technique and weight room training has paid off. She has gained four clubs in length since this time last year. The best part is that she has only scratched the surface in terms of her potential."
Gibby's partner in captaining, Natalie Newren, has also been an asset to the team in the fall.
Last season Natalie Newren played in eight of BYU's nine tournaments and shot career-low rounds of 72 in three straight tournaments. She was named Mountain West Conference Women's Golfer of the Month for April after finishing a career-high eighth at the BYU Dixie Classic.
This season Newren is the veteran traveler on the team and holds the team's second lowest tournament scoring average of 77.7.
"You can expect some great scores out of Natalie this spring," Nyhus says.
Not only are Natalie Newren and Gibby great players on the course, they are also great students in the classroom.
"They lead by example," Nyhus says.
With these two captains, the depth of team and the strength of its youth, BYU is ready to conquer all that is brought forth.
Nyhus' focus on the upcoming spring semester is for her team to forget about their youth and to think, practice and perform like champions.
"I want all the players on the team this year to believe in themselves," Nyhus says. "It's time to dream bigger!"