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Tuesday, September 2, 2014 | Last updated: 9:56am

Comfort is the key to Arizona women's golf diverse recruiting



All universities have their selling points. For some, it’s the location; for others, it might be the facilities. Here at the UA, for golf, it’s the family.

Wildcat women’s golf features players from Australia, France, Spain, California, Oregon and Arizona.

Each has her own reasons for coming to the UA, but they were all able to agree on one thing that brought them here: how comfortable they felt in Tucson.

“The feeling I got when I came here was a sense of home, and a sense that they care just as equally about the golfers as they do any other sport,” freshman Jessica Vasilic said. “It was a feeling of acceptance.”

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File Photo / The Daily Wildcat Freshman Wanasa Zhou lines up her shot during practice at Sewailo Golf Club. Zhou is one of three international players on the seven-member women's golf team.

When members of the team shared experiences of their recruiting visits to the UA campus, they described a feeling of genuine care and concern that came from not only the coaching staff, but everyone involved with the team.

“All the athletes are very family-oriented, and the coaches make it feel like home,” sophomore Lindsey Weaver said. “It’s so welcoming. The team is so welcoming. We all get along great.”

Head coach Laura Ianello said she is proud of the UA’s welcoming environment.

“We take a huge part of these ladies’ lives,” Ianello said. “We’re not just their golf coaches; we truly care about them as people. We truly invest ourselves, our lives, into their lives ’cause we want them to succeed not just on the golf course, but in the classroom and in their personal lives.”

Ianello’s philosophy has its origins in the time she spent at the UA as a student-athlete from 1998-2003.

“I remember my coaching staff, Greg Allen and Jody Dansie,” Ianello said. “When I was here, they made it a family.”

This sense of family can be necessary when dealing with so many student-athletes that are far from home. Junior Andrea Vilarasau is from Spain and said she was not interested in studying abroad until she had the opportunity to meet Ianello and visit the UA campus.

“[Ianello] made me feel comfortable, and made me feel like I was going to have my temporary home here,” Vilarasau said.

Now that Vilarasau is a junior, she is able to help other international players with the adjustment to college life and life in the U.S.

The high number of international players creates a lot of learning opportunities for each of the team members.

“We are definitely a cultured team,” Vasilic said. “We as people will grow because we’re being exposed to so many different things.”

It is these kind of experiences that will help Ianello reach her goal of ensuring that those on her team become not only better players under her watch, but also better people.

“It’s so wonderful for these ladies to look outside the box and realize that there’s more people than just from what they came from,” Ianello said. “There’s great people all over the world, and it’s good to open your heart and become friends with different cultures to build a family unit.”

—Follow Fernando Galvan @fgalvan35


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