The University of New Mexico women’s golf team has been one of the most successful athletic and academic programs the university has seen over the past 10 years.
With this past semester taken into consideration, the team has achieved a 3.9 GPA or higher for four consecutive semesters, 18 semesters of a 3.5 or higher GPA and 36 semesters of a 3.0 GPA or higher.
The only thing more consistent than the academic success is head coach Jill Trujillo. Trujillo has led the women’s golf program for the past 14 years, and in that time, she has transformed it into a model of athletic and academic excellence.
Trujillo is a recent recipient of the Kim Evans Award, which is given out by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA).
In the words of the WGCA, the award recognizes “the college or high school coach, and Class A PGA Professional, whose support of the game through teaching, coaching and involvement in the community has helped ensure the continued growth of golf, and who represents the finest qualities the sport has to offer.”
Trujilo and the women’s golf team have been one of the more consistently successful programs at UNM both academically and athletically.
“The academic kudos that we’ve had (illustrates that) our team works extremely hard on the golf course, and not to be cliche, but on the golf course and in the classroom,” Trujillo said.
Trujillo commended her team for their drive in balancing their goals both in and beyond golf.
“It all means very much to them. They know their grades have to be good. For some of them in difficult majors, if they want to get their dream jobs or even (play) professional tours, they want to have something to fall back on,” Trujillo said. “Our team — they’re a strange, awesome bunch. I think golfers in general… definitely overachieve.”
Junior Kamie Hamada is an example of the type of success the players have achieved.
In her three seasons at UNM, Hamada has been honored as a 2019-2020 WGCA All-American Scholar, 2019-2020 Mountain West Conference (MWC) Scholar-Athlete and 2020 MWC Academic All-Conference.
“We all value our college education and for me personally, playing golf, the main goal was to get a college scholarship and go to a great college and get a great education,” Hamada said.
When it came to balancing school and golf, Hamada stressed the importance of time blocking every aspect of her schedule, in order to prevent burnout and prioritize her personal life.
Trujillo and Hamada also commended the efforts put forth by their academic advisement team in ensuring that the student-athletics on the team were reaching the necessary goals to have success both personally and professionally.
Under Trujillo’s tenure, the team has won four MWC team titles, five MWC individual tournament championships, 11 NCAA regional postseason appearances and three NCAA national postseason appearances.
This run was highlighted by the 2017-2018 season, which saw the team capture eight top ten finishes and a fourth-place finish at the MWC championship.
“When student athletes think about their craft, which for our team is golf, they’re not just here to play,” Trujillo said. “They’re here to win.”
For Hamada, the reflection of her craft has translated into practicing all areas of her game. Hamada laughed as she described the feeling of not knowing how she ever shot competitive scores in high school given her approach to the game.
“I look back at the way I used to play when I first came in as a freshman. How did I shoot those scores the way I was playing?” Hamada said. “I would definitely just go out there and just hit the ball.”
But over time, Hamada said she’s been able to refine her approach to the game and with that has led to her growth as a player.
In her sophomore campaign, Hamada posted a low round score of 71 twice and averaged a 77.0 score over the course of 15 rounds.
The women’s golf season started on Feb. 8 and will run through April. As the team begins the season, the players will also look to continue their run of academic and athletic success.
But the sting of last year’s lost season is not lost on Hamada.
“Now that I stayed home for a year, away from competition, everyday I get out on the golf course to practice or at a tournament, I’m just super grateful,” Hamada said.
The women’s golf team just finished the fourth tournament of the season, placing eighth at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational.
The next tournament will be the Ping/ASU Invitational, which will take place March 26-28.
Gino Gutierrez is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo, he can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @GGutierrez48