It’s Tuesday on Wildman’s Corner and that means I chat with a college coach or player. Miami women’s coach Lela Cannon gets the honor of going first. After all, this fiery coach led the Hurricanes to a victory Feb. 23 at the Edwin Watts/Kiawah Island Classic.
Wildman: You have been the head coach at Miami for 27 years. I’m sure you have several happy moments and memories. What is your favorite one?
Canon: It would have to be winning the national championship in 1984. It was a team with no seniors, and they did not lack any motivation whatsoever. It was not tough to get them to play at all. They were all in the right point of their careers, and it was easy for them to get it going. It was a fun team to be around, just like the one I have this year.
Wildman: You annonced in November that you will retire at the end of the season. What will be the toughest part about leaving?
Canon: Leaving the kids is tough. I recently bumped in to the Southern Miss coach Julie Gallup, who is a former player of mine. She came right up to me and said, “You have touched a lot of lives and made an impact on a lot of individuals.” I thought about what she said and later realized that’s something I never really thought about. It really was heartfelt and touched me.
Wildman: The U has a lot of traditions and famous alums. Do you have any interesting stories?
Canon: Let me tell you about Woody (Austin). In 1984 I coached the United States in the U.S. vs. Japan matches. Woody, Woody, Woody . . . he was never satisfied and was always hard on himself. He had so much talent and was such a great golfer. In those matches I never saw a golfer want to win for a team so badly. He was so passionate about Team USA and the Hurricanes. He was a total team player, but I wish he would have cut himself some slack once in a while.
Wildman: How has women’s college golf changed since 1983 when you first started at Miami?
Canon: These days its just a real business. When we were at tournaments we use to go out to dinner with other teams. Now with junior golf and scouting, it’s too competitive, and the pressure to win is so high. Today the fun is gone due to all the pressure of winning and losing, and that truly takes away from the fun we use to have in the good old days.
Wildman: What kind of team will Miami’s next coach have?
Canon: A team that if I could keep healthy for an extended period of time will be great. This team is maturing, and I feel the next coach coming in will have a great team. This team reminds me a lot of my ’84 national championship team. We have no seniors, but have girls that are easily motivated and truly love playing the game.