Illinois women’s golf team trying to forget about past

By Ryan Wilson

The Illinois women’s golf team has two weeks remaining in its fall schedule, but the Illini are doing more than practicing golf: They’re relaxing and thinking positively. Head coach Renee Sloness said that will be key to finishing the fall season strong.

The Illinois team routinely meditates and does yoga and Pilates. They also do breathing exercises through a program called HeartMath. The program is supposed to help lower stress and improve one’s focus. It can cause a 50 percent drop in fatigue, 46 percent drop in anxiety, while improving focus by 24 percent, according to its website.

“We draw information from a wide variety of sources that are beneficial to us,” Slone said.

She also encourages players to take breaks between shots at tournaments to relax and think about a positive phrase, place or song.

Illinois finished 12th of 13 teams at the Jim West Challenge on Oct. 4-6ss, but Slone does not want the team to dwell on previous scores. Instead, she wants the team to think about its accomplishments: Shooting the eighth lowest 54-hole tournament in the team history at the Minnesota Invitational on Sept. 14-15 and Bing Singhsumalee going an Illinois best 6-under in her first college round.

“Progress is not a steady incline,” Slone said. “There are bumps along the way, and sometimes you take a step backward in order to take five steps forward.”

Dana Gattoness echoed her coach’s remarks. Gattone said the Illini need to stay positive and not forget about their potential.

Gattone said Illinois struggled in the first two days of the Jim West Challenge, but even then, she was proud of her teammate Grace Park. Park finished 23rd after shooting a season’s best 1-under the final round.

“I think overall, we all had at least one or two rounds that were pretty good,” Gattone said. “And seeing Grace to be our top finisher for our team and to finish in the top-25 is really big, because that was a huge accomplishment for her.”

Jan Prapassarangkul and Singhsumalee each shot under par in a round at the Jim West Challenge.

Assistant coach Jenny Coluccio said one of the team’s goals is to compete in its first National Championship.

“The goal is definitely reachable,” Coluccio said. “But we are going at it one step at a time.”

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