Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Building a champion

Five years ago, the Alabama women’s golf team was never even considered a threat in the Southeastern Conference. But that was before current head coach Mic Potter arrived at the Capstone. Now, Alabama can call itself an SEC champion for the first time ever, as the Crimson Tide captured the title on April 18 on its home course.

“The opportunity to do it here in Tuscaloosa in front of our hometown fans made it that much more special,” he said. “I was just amazed at the community support and the number of people out there at the event. If we would have been anywhere else I don’t think it would have had nearly the impact as it did to win the first one in Alabama history in Tuscaloosa.”

In five years here, Potter has taken the program to new levels. He led the Tide to its second NCAA Championship appearance in program history in his very first year at Alabama and has repeated the feat every year he has been here.

“It’s been a dream come true for me,” Potter said. “First of all, to have the support administratively we have here in athletics, and for our team in particular, has been great. Kevin Almond, Mal Moore and Dave Hart do everything they can to make it possible for us to be successful. I wasn’t used to that in the past. The community of athletes and head coaches here are like nothing I have ever experienced before. The environment has been outstanding.”

When Potter left Furman University to rebuild Alabama, he wasn’t sure if he could attract the talent to compete on the highest level, but he said the unexpected early success accelerated his recruiting pipelines.

“We had more success than we should have had early, and that helps us recruit now,” Potter said. “My only question when I looked at this job was, can I get great junior female golfers here to visit? I knew that after seeing the campus and seeing what we have to offer here we could get the players.”

Potter said he was not solely to thank for turning the program around so fast.

“I owe a lot of my early success to a couple of girls that transferred from Furman with me,” Potter said. “It made us better immediately and gave us credibility in the recruiting world. If we didn’t have them, we would not have been able to make it to the national championships our first year. That would have hurt recruiting a lot.

“The more you win, the more you are successful, the more that breeds success. We had some success early and it was able to snowball.”

Potter is no newcomer to the game of golf. He has been around the game for almost 30 years. He rates his time here at the Capstone as one of the best of his career.

“Certainly winning the SEC Championship this past week is the highlight of my career,” he said. “The feeling and the idea of building a program from where it was to where it is now is very gratifying. I think that is the most gratifying and important thing I have been able to do in my career.

“I was successful at Furman, but the competition now is way better. Now there are about 13 or 14 teams that could win a national championship. Back then, there were only about three or four teams that could do it.”

“[Winning the SEC Championship] was awesome, hard to describe,” junior Camilla Lennarth said. “This is what we practice for, to win the big championships. We’ve been playing well from time to time, but we all pulled it together and our practices payed off.”

Even with all the success he has had, Potter stays humble and knows that he and the team can improve.

“We haven’t played particularly well in the national championships,” he said. “We were kind of on the border line last year of getting some momentum, but we finished 11th. There are things as a coach that you learn from and address in practice and hopefully we can improve on those things so we can get to where we can compete for national championships.”

Potter doesn’t limit his job to the golf course. His players love playing for him, and he even helps them with everyday life. Lennarth says it has been a great experience playing for Potter the last three years.

“I’ve learned a lot, everything from maturing in life, maturing my golf game, getting better in school, getting better at English and getting tougher on the golf course,” Lennarth said. “He helps me with everything, not just on the golf course.”

Next up for the Tide are the NCAA Regional Championships May 6-8. Expectations are high as always.

“Our goal is to finish first,” Potter said. “It’s a difficult field and a difficult tournament, but I think the SEC Championship has prepared us for it.”

“We are going to go out there and try to win,” Lennarth said. “You don’t go in there trying to qualify; you go to win just like any other tournament.”

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