Among coaches, Ohio State’s Therese Hession took three freshmen, a junior and a senior on a team not ranked among the preseason women’s top 30 to tie for seventh at the NCAA Championship and a No. 16 ranking in a year she called “very satisfying.” The Buckeyes won three times in the spring, including a co-victory at the Big Ten Conference Championship.
“Some years as a coach, you kind of think, What could I have done better?” said Hession, who has coached the Buckeyes for 24 years. “This year was one of those years where I felt like we got a lot out of the kids.”
Under the direction of first-year coach Alan Murray, who was promoted at Alabama-Birmingham after three years as a men’s assistant, the Blazers improved from a No. 55 ranking in 2013 to No. 12 this spring. Each player in the starting lineup improved his national ranking, and the Blazers were ranked in the top 10 for most of the season. UAB won only once but finished second six times.
Murray, told of the honor during the U.S. Open at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort, where he caddied for 2014 alumnus Sam Love, deflected praise.
“It comes down to the kids,” he said. “If they don’t buy in, if they don’t want to work hard, it’s going to be tough. I am really lucky that I have great kids.”
– Nick Masuda and Julie Williams contributed