The University of Arizona womens golf program has received a huge boon, a possibly program-changing recruit who can take the Wildcats back to the pinnacle of the Pac-12.
Beaverton High junior Gigi Stoll a golfing wunderkind who participated in the U.S. Womens Open at the ripe age of 15 committed to the Wildcats in December, giving the UA a rare talent some observers think is talented enough to go pro from the high school ranks.
I felt like I was ready, Stoll says. I knew Arizona was the place I wanted to go. I just felt, if I was ready, that I might as well commit. College is a really good experience, and my coaches will be able to get me to that next step. I want to go to college and have that experience ... Id like to help carry my team.
Golf is different from most Division I sports in that collegiate programs try to secure verbal commitments as early as possible, even years ahead of signing day.
For instance, Stoll will graduate from Beaverton in 2015, but she was one of the last Wildcats to commit for the 2015-16 season. Stoll estimates that Arizona has two oly spots open for its 2015 class and normally accepts just one or two new players every year. So, while there was no pressure or rush to pledge her prodigal skills to the Wildcats, Stoll wanted it to be known that UA was her future home, rather than watch someone take her place.
Stoll visited at least eight possible schools but fell in love with Arizonas campus and its multitude of academic avenues. Undecided on which major to pursue, Stoll says Arizona offered a number of choices. And the always-warm Tucson weather affords Stoll the chance to play golf year-round for a program that the current Beaver says has great coaches and courses.
Stoll says it will be fun getting to know a new team and meeting different golfers. The possibility of going from high school to the LPGA has been brought up in the past when discussing Stolls sterling future. Yet, the powerful righty, who can drive the ball 270 yards, says shes focused on taking her swing to the desert and helping the Wildcats perform well as a program.
A school thats produced the likes of LPGA pros Lorena Ochoa, Natalie Gulbis and Annika Sorenstam, the UA has a reputation for grooming future superstars and taking their games to another stratosphere. Plus, under third-year coach Laura Ianello, the Wildcats have finished first, second and third in the Pac-12 the past three seasons.
As a team player, who enjoys winning as a squad, Stoll sought to be part of a winning tradition.
I think theyre bringing in some new recruits from my class and years after, so theyll be pretty strong when I get there, Stoll says. Im pretty excited about that. The coaches can help me mentally get to the next step. Once you get to college, your game should be at its peak. But,they can help you maintain those low scores and improve your game by doing the little things.