May 23, 2024

Life at Number One with Stanford Women's Golf Assistant Coach, Brooke Riley

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In this episode of T-Time with Tori, we dive into the world of college golf with Stanford Women's Golf Assistant Coach, Brooke Riley. From her own journey as a player at Northwestern to now coaching the top-ranked team in the country, Brooke shares her unique insights and experiences.

From Late Bloomer to College Standout

Brooke's path to golf was far from ordinary. Growing up, she played just about every sport, with soccer being her main focus. It wasn't until her 12th birthday that her grandfather introduced her to golf, and she fell in love with the game.

"I happened to qualify for the U.S. Amateur going into my junior year of high school. That was where my Northwestern coach saw me. It was just kind of all the stars aligned." - Brooke Riley

Despite her late start, Brooke's talent and work ethic quickly shone through. She played all the way through high school and caught the attention of the Northwestern coach at the U.S. Amateur.

The College Golf Experience

Brooke's time at Northwestern was nothing short of incredible. She wouldn't trade it for anything, citing great relationships with her coaches, an incredible administrative staff, and a tight-knit group of student-athletes.

"My teammates are some of my best friends. So I love it." - Brooke Riley

But it wasn't always easy. Brooke struggled with her identity being tied to her golf performance, especially during her freshman year when she wasn't competing in the top five for the team.

"It really took everything out of me and really had to grapple with who am I outside of golf." - Brooke Riley

Transitioning to Coaching

After a brief stint in the administrative side of college athletics, Brooke found herself missing the game. When the opportunity to coach at Stanford arose, she jumped at the chance.

Brooke brings her own experiences as a player to her coaching style, focusing on building confidence and helping her players see the bigger picture.

Inside Look at the Stanford Team

  • The team consists of 8-9 players, with the top 5 competing in tournaments.
  • Qualifying rounds are held every Tuesday and Thursday to determine the top 5.
  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday practices are 2.5 hours, with workouts in the morning.
  • The team shares a strength coach with the women's basketball team.
  • Nutrition is a key focus, with a team nutritionist and fueling stations available.

The Road to the NCAA Championship

As the team gears up for the biggest tournament of the year, Brooke gives us a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into preparing for the grueling week.

  • 8 rounds of golf in 7 days for those who make it to the championship round.
  • Balancing rest and practice to ensure peak performance.
  • Managing expectations and focusing on the controllables

"Once we hit the golf course and we're playing, yes, our strategy and our routine is in our control, but once the ball's in the air, that's not. So we talk a lot about just preparing." - Brooke Riley

Golf is Not Your Identity

One of the biggest lessons Brooke tries to instill in her players is that golf does not define them. It's a prevalent issue, especially in women's golf, where the desire for identity and people-pleasing can take over.

Brooke encourages her players to bring back their inner child on the course - the one who plays fearlessly and for the love of the game.

"Bring that kid back that just wants it and isn't fearful and the kid that just loves it." - Brooke Riley

The Future of Women's Golf

With the success of players like Rose Zhang and the increasing popularity of amateur golf, the future of women's golf looks bright. Brooke sees the potential for growth and the importance of getting more people watching and engaged with the sport.

As for Brooke, she's loving her role as a coach and the opportunity to make a difference in her players' lives, both on and off the course.

"I'm so lucky to be here. It's been so much fun." - Brooke Riley

Key Takeaways

  1. Embrace the journey, even if it's unconventional.
  2. Surround yourself with supportive teammates and coaches.
  3. Manage expectations and focus on the controllables.
  4. Remember that golf is what you do, not who you are.
  5. Bring back the joy and fearlessness of your inner child on the course.

With Brooke Riley at the helm, the Stanford Women's Golf team is poised for continued success. Her passion for the game, dedication to her players, and unique perspective as a former college standout make her the perfect fit for the top-ranked program.

As the team heads into the NCAA Championship, one thing is clear: they've got the talent, the work ethic, and the support system to make a run at the title. And with Brooke by their side, they've got a coach who understands the ups and downs of the journey and is ready to help them navigate it all.

So here's to the Stanford Women's Golf team, to Brooke Riley, and to all the young women out there chasing their dreams on the course. May you play fearlessly, love the game deeply, and always remember that golf is just one part of who you are.

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