Chadwell forges a new path with women’s golf
A new chapter in athletics is beginning as UH welcomes a women’s golf program, which becomes a full member of the American Athletic Conference in 2014-15.
The startup program will be led by first-year coach Gerrod Chadwell, who realizes there are challenges, like recruiting, ahead for a program without a history.
“It’s obviously hard to sell something that you can’t physically see, touch or feel. So you are asking players to take a bit of a leap of faith,” he said.
The self-described “player’s coach” is hoping his personality and previous success will be enough to draw recruits to the University. Chadwell said he would try to emphasize his ability to improve a player’s stroke average while at Oklahoma and Redlands Community College.
His track record speaks for itself. He led Redlands to back-to-back NJCAA national championships in 2008 and 2009, followed by a third place finish in 2010. While an assistant for the Sooners, the program advanced to three consecutive NCAA Regional appearances in 2011, 2012 and 2013. His 2012 team also was crowned Big XII champion and went on to place sixth in the NCAA championships.
He could also point out the same things that brought him to the nation’s fourth largest city.
Chadwell found it hard to pass up the great weather and the ability to play year round, he said. This coupled with an administration that wants golf to be important and not just another sport to meet Title IX requirements was enough to convince Chadwell to make the move from Oklahoma, he said.
He also stressed how critical of a role the success of the men’s program has on his recruiting early. With a men’s program that is coming off a Conference USA team and individual championship, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for Chadwell.
UH’s golf history was certainly the selling point for Director of Golf Jonathan Dismuke when he first arrived on campus in 2009. Embracing the past helped Dismuke elevate the program. Chadwell will look to do the same.
“We recruited some good kids who wanted to be a part of the rebuilding process,” Dismuke said in May. “My first recruiting class took us from 105th in the nation to a top 25 program in the nation.”
Chadwell hopes that the storied program’s rich history and winning tradition will carry over to the women’s side early and often. He will start the process with UH’s first two women’s golf recruits, Emily Gilbreath and Kelli Rollo.
The men’s golf team has won 16 team national championships, which is second in NCAA history, and eight individual titles. Cougar red has been worn by the likes of Fred Couples, Steve Elkington, Bruce Lietzke, John Mahaffey, Bill Rogers, Billy Tuten and Blaine McCallister.
While the Cougars’ new coach tries to be realistic in his expectations early on, that fails to stand in the way of his competitive nature.
“I want to be competitive early on and compete in the postseason and for conference titles,” he said.
UH Athletics Director Mack Rhoades believes in Chadwell’s vision.
“His previous coaching achievements on the course speak for themselves and equally impressive are the academic achievements his former student-athletes have accomplished,” Rhoades said in a statement.
If Chadwell continues with the same attitude and couples it with great work ethic, it could prove to be a winning combination.