Editor’s note: Cassie Stein graduated from Robert Morris in 2012 and played on the golf team from 2008 to 2010.
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Wiping away tears, Robert Morris head coach Jerry Stone found it hard to talk about the school’s women’s golf team, which will disband at the end of the spring season.
It was hard for me to hear it. It’s almost like it wasn’t true until hearing it in person.
In December, the women’s team and six other programs at Robert Morris had a meeting with athletic director Craig Coleman and university president Greg Dell’Omo, at which time they were told they were being cut for financial reasons.
“It was such a shock,” said sophomore Halley Morell, speaking at the Lonnie Barton Invitational at LPGA International, where she placed fifth and the Patriots finished fourth in the six-team field. “We heard rumors that something was going to happen, but we didn’t know what. We were kind of at a loss.”
After the meeting, according to Morell, the golf team held a separate meeting to talk about what happened. Everyone in the room “cried for 10 minutes straight,” Morell said, “because we weren’t going to be a team anymore.”
Stone added that he had to walk out of the room to catch his breath.
In the program’s 10-year history, Stone coached six All-Northeast Conference players and was named the coach of the year in the 2009-10 season. He was named the league’s men’s coach of the year that season.
Six of seven players on the 2013-14 roster are underclassmen. So making the choice to transfer or to stay at the Pittsburgh school has been a tough decision for some.
Sophomore Amanda Reach had already transferred once after another NEC team – Mount St. Mary’s – dropped its women’s program last year. Reach, Sarah Weber, Gianna Pro and Tori Zachman are 95 percent sure that they will not transfer and remain at Robert Morris. The athletic department is allowing these athletes to keep their athletic money until they graduate.
Morell committed to Penn State on March 7 and will continue her collegiate golf career in Happy Valley. Freshman Chloe Wong, who is from Vancouver, British Columbia, will attend Eastern Illinois next year.
“It definitely wasn’t a choice for me,” said Morell, who is from Brecksville, Ohio, about whether to stay at RMU or transfer. “This is what I wanted to do. This is my life. I knew I wanted to continue my career.”
It’s a matter of just going through the motions now.
“We practice normal,” Stone said. “We still play and they show up with a smile on their face.”
The women’s program, which began in the 2003-04 season, will come to an end April 27, the last round of the Northeast Conference Championship, which also will be at LPGA International.
“It’s tough,” Stone said, a lump forming in his throat. “Starting it (the program) and seeing everybody grow and everybody mature, it’s going to be hard to see everyone leave.”
“I’m sure that week is going to be very hard.”
As an alumna of the school and the program, I find it difficult to hear that the team no longer will be in commission. For a school to cut a golf team – with only seven players – really hurts these players and coaches who are so passionate about the game.
I wish nothing but the best to these players and coaches that have to go through this ordeal.