Women's golf truly a family affair
By JORDAN FREEMYER
GREELEY – For the Northern Colorado Women's Golf team, winning the 2012 Big Sky Conference Championship and qualifying for the NCAA West Regional has been a family affair.
All five of the players that played in the Big Sky Championship and that will play in this week's regional have played with their sisters at Northern Colorado.
"It's kind of started to become a joke when I bring a recruit in to visit, I have to find out if they have any younger sisters that play golf," Northern Colorado head coach Brandon White said.
There is one set of sisters currently on the squad, junior Carleigh Silvers, the individual Big Sky champion, and senior Chelsea Silvers, who finished second at the 2012 Big Sky Championship. Only Chelsea's bogey on the 18th hole of the final round prevented an all-Silvers playoff for the individual title.
"It would've been competitive," Carleigh said. "But it would've been a fun competitive. It would have been a fun thing to do."
"That means a lot to me as a coach," White said. "To know that the younger sisters have decided to come here after the older sisters gave it a trial run. We must be doing something right."
The Silvers sisters will lead the Bears into this week's NCAA West Regional, which begins Thursday at Colorado National Golf Club in Erie.
The 24-team field includes three Colorado schools with Denver and host Colorado playing as well. The Bears played at Colorado National in both 2009 and 2010 at the Heather Farr Memorial Invitational.
"It would've been fun to travel somewhere for regionals," White said. "But with this being the first one that we've ever qualified for, I think its great being able to stay close to home. We're comfortable with the altitude and we're only 40 minutes from home.
"It's going to be nice, too, that being close to home a lot of friends and family and boosters and people from the university will have an opportunity to come down and watch us play here."
Avery, McNeley and Nelson will all have their sisters and former teammates in attendance at the regionals, and the Silvers will have family in attendance as well.
"It's a very cool time for our family," said Chelsea Silvers, who graduated from Northern Colorado this past weekend. "It's kind of been us four, my mom, my dad, me and Carleigh going to golf tournaments, paying for lessons, paying for this, paying for that for golf the last 10, 12 even more years. It's the thing to us as a family that's really special to us."
Chelsea has worked at Colorado National in the past and said that seeing all the trappings of the tournament was something of a shock to her system when she arrived with the team on Tuesday.
"I got here this morning and they were putting it all up and I'm like 'Oh geez, this is kind of scary,'" she said. "So it does give me a little bit of nerves, but it's exciting."
The Bears know they will be facing the toughest field they have seen all season, headlined by UCLA, the top ranked team in the nation by Golfstat.
"We're here with an incredibly good field," White said. "Every team in this field is really good and we're extremely happy to be here, we're proud of winning the Big Sky Championship and glad we're getting this opportunity."
The field includes five of Golfstat's top 12 teams in the nation with LSU, North Carolina, Colorado and California in addition to UCLA. The top eight teams and two individuals will advance to the NCAA Championships May 22-25 at Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn. The best finish by a Big Sky team at an NCAA Regional is 15th by Northern Arizona, who scored 911 that year, also the best by a Big Sky team.
The Bears will hope to better those marks, but know it will be a great experience regardless of the outcome.
"To end [Chelsea's] senior year this way and be able to play at regionals together and have our parents and grandparents and family out here watching, we couldn't have asked for anything better," Carleigh Silvers said.