Sophomores Anhayte Guajardo and Kalay Kotasek, two members of the women’s golf team, recently helped their team to a third-place finish at the Midwest Conference Championships, which was the team’s highest finish since the program started in 2014. Both Guajardo and Kotasek attribute part of their success to the opportunity they were given over the summer to compete overseas in Scotland.
Following last year’s season, Guajardo and Kotasek were invited to play for the USA Athletes International (USAAI) Golf Team. Their nomination was based on performance from last year’s season and leadership displayed on the course. After receiving an email from a representative of USAAI detailing their selection, it was an easy decision for the athletes to accept the nomination.
While in Scotland, Guajardo and Kotasek competed in three tournaments over the course of 10 days and were joined by eight other athletes from the Division I, Division II, and Division III level.
When asked about what they learned from the experience Kotasek mentioned, “I learned how to deal with different weather conditions. The weather ranged from being pretty cold to fairly warm. Every day was different.”
Guajardo followed, “I was able to get to know my clubs better. I knew which range was associated with each club. The tournament helped me become more confident in my swing.”
USA Athletes International, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to giving amateur athletes and coaches the opportunity to participate in international Olympic-style sporting events throughout the world, while also allowing them to broaden their educational and cultural knowledge of the world through the experience.
Following the 2016 spring season Kotasek unfortunately endured an injury, but her confidence was rejuvenated after competing in Scotland and thinking about how she played there. “The experience helped me battle through to get back where I needed to be mentally.”
Both Guajardo and Kotasek said the most memorable part of the trip was, “Getting to know the other athletes and to experience the Scottish culture. We climbed the Wallace Monument and could see for miles. We went out for dinner and explored the town every night.”
Just a few weeks ago at the Midwest Conference Tournament, Lake Forest College finished two strokes behind runner-up Monmouth College and two ahead of fourth-place Illinois College. The three-day tournament total was a 62-shot improvement from last year.
When reflecting on the season, Guajardo is proud of how the team performed. “We bonded a lot more this year and encouraged each other throughout matches. That helped lift our spirits.”
Kotasek then continued, “We played a lot more golf this year and practiced on a more challenging course, but it really was all about the team this year. I wanted to play well for my team.”
Kotasek finished 19th overall at the Midwest Conference Tournament, while Guajardo placed 20th.
Guajardo and Kotasek look forward to another successful season next year and have hopes to improve their own game. Guajardo would like to continue perfecting her swing, "To a point when I’m confident every time I step up to the ball.” Kotasek mentioned, “My swings were everywhere. Next fall I want to focus more on my mental game and really want to shoot in the 70s at some point.”
Guajardo and Kotasek encourage anyone nominated to represent USSAI to take the once in a lifetime opportunity. Guajardo and Kotasek both mentioned the experience made them realize how much they love golf. It relit their passion.