Women's Golf Headline
GatorZone.com Senior Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The national search for a new Florida women’s golf coach ended in an office down the hall at the Mark Bostick Clubhouse.
Emily Bastel, barely 10 months removed from arriving as a UF assistant, was promoted to head coach Friday and will replace Jan Dowling, who resigned last month citing personal reasons.
“I knew there would be lots of qualified candidates, but I really was just looking for a shot,” Bastel said Friday. “Over the last year, being on campus and around the players and getting a feel for what it was like to be around Gator athletics, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.”
Bastel’s resume` came across Athletic Director Jeremy Foley’s desk along with a slew of other -- some quite impressive -- from across the country. Given that Bastel, 31, had a hand in helping Dowling lead the Gators to a fourth-place finish in the 2012 Southeastern Conference standings and 12th in the NCAA Championships last month, Foley felt it only right to grant Bastel an audience.
He’s glad he did.
“I was just blown away,” Foley said. “We had a diamond in our midst and didn’t even know it.”
The search committee felt the same way after its meeting with Bastel.
“When she left the room, we all sort of looked at each other and said, you know, ‘Wow.’ It was that impressive,” said senior associate athletic director Mike Spiegler, who oversees women’s golf. “She may be on the quiet side, but she’s confident and has an idea about the direction we’re headed and will continue to go.”
That would be up, of course, which was where Dowling definitely had the Gators moving. The program Dowling took over in 2009 was coming off a 10th-place finish in the SEC and did not qualify for the NCAAs.
Three seasons later, the Gators were in the thick of things.
“Jan and I shared a lot of the same vision, but there will definitely be some of my own touches on the program,” Bastel said. “We differed in the way we viewed the game of golf. She was a little more analytical, where I’m more of a feel player. I’m sure those type of things will work their way into how I run practices and how I coach the players. My personal philosophy of being a good coach centers on a lot of great communication and relationship with the players.”
Bastel must have had that. Spiegler said every member of the UF team called, texted or emailed to lobby on Bastel’s behalf.
“I’m so happy and so relieved,” senior Isabelle Lendl said from her home in Goshen, Conn. “Emily has been around golf her whole life and knows the ins and outs of the game. She’s a balanced, experienced person, and I think that makes a big difference.”
Bastel was born in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, to a family that had owned and operated a golf course since the 1930s. She grew up in and around the game, with her father doubling as a golf pro and course superintendent.
“Sometimes my lessons would consist of him jumping off the mower, watching me for five minutes, then going back to work. That left me to figure some things out for myself,” said the three-time Ohio state amateur champion. “Looking back, that’s how you become a better player; by knowing your game, knowing your swing, those type of things. Instruction is great, but there’s a certain something that has to come from inside.”
Bastel found that certain something, eventually taking her skills to Michigan State, where she won a Big Ten individual championship in 2000 -- four times she was named all-conference -- and leading the Spartans to the team title in 2002.
That same year, Bastel was chose for the Curtis Cup team, which is the female version of the Ryder Cup for amateurs. She played on the LPGA Tour for three seasons (2005-08) and was the Future Tour’s leading money winner in 2007. Twice she placed in the top-10 on LPGA Tour events, once carding a career-low round of 66 in the McDonald’s Championship.
Sandwiched around her touring was one year as an assistant at MSU and another as an assistant at Duke before Dowling came calling last summer. Foley obviously met her then, but not to the extent of their sit-down session earlier this week.
“I listened to her talk and I was overwhelmed by her maturity, her self-confidence -- a quiet confidence -- and her resume is spectacular in terms of what she’s done in her golf career as a player,” Foley said. “I talked to her coach at Michigan State who absolutely praised her work ethic. She’ll have to be able to work and recruit here and she’ll do it with a great personality and smile.”
One of the catch phrases in golf is “grinder.” Bastel said that word describes her (pardon the pun) to a tee.
“I was always like, find a way to get it done,” Bastel said. “No matter if you’re hitting it left, right or straight, no matter where the ball is going, just find a way to score.”
That’s sort of how she got the job. She found a way to get an interview.
Now, she must find a way to keep the Gators on their upswing.
Time to grind.
“I have a special place in my heart for that type of player,” Bastel said. “I want the ones that have the potential to be great and want to work hard to make it happen.”
Like she just did.