Future Alabama players are more than just teammates
REUNION, Fla. – After signing their scorecards for second round action at the Annika Invitational on Jan. 19, Nicole Morales, Lakareber Abe and Cheyenne Knight could be found eating together, sharing laughs and donning Alabama gear, of course.
The trio of Crimson Tide commits is more than just a group of future teammates – it’s a group of friends.
The bond started early for Abe and Morales when they met at Doral as kids. But the three golfers came together for good at the Thunderbird International Junior last May. Morales played the part of recruiter and Knight was all ears.
“Nicole won (Thunderbird) and the day after that tournament I committed. I played a practice round with Nicole and I asked her about Alabama. She just sold it,” Knight said.
Morales and Abe have signed letters of intent and will join the team next fall. Knight, a class of 2015 golfer, is a verbal commit.
Each golfer led a different path to Tuscaloosa, Ala. And Morales, a New York native, was skeptical at first.
“To be quite honest, I didn’t think I was going to like it just because I’m from New York born and bred. I was like, ‘Why would I want to go down south? Everybody says ya’ll, they don’t eat the right food. What the heck is going on?’” Morales said with a laugh. “But when I walked on campus, I knew within 15 minutes that I wanted to go there. Coach (Mic) Potter is the best coach ever. He is so great. He and Susan (Rosenstiel) are just the best team. I was hooked ever since.”
When Morales visited a tournament at Penn State, she was impressed by the Crimson Tide’s team chemistry. Something she hopes to continue with Abe and Knight.
“I remember Alabama had their own little section on the driving range. Everybody was laughing, they were having a good time,” Morales said. “None of the other teams were near as much of a unit as Alabama was. For me, that was it. I thought that’s where I needed to be.”
None of the golfers shot a round under par through 36 holes at the Reunion Resort Watson Course. Abe, the No. 6 player in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, led the trio at T-12 on Sunday.
But Morales, the No. 1 player in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, and her pair of future teammates were not shy about their collegiate goal – win the NCAAs. “A couple,” Morales added.
Said Abe: “I think the sky’s the limit for us. We’ve gotten to know each other really well and have gotten a lot closer since we’ve all committed. Coach Potter and Coach Susan have goals, but we also have goals and we all help each other to achieve them.”
Part of that support system comes from the gallery. The other two commits followed Abe as she played to the final of the U.S. Girls’ Junior and Knight as she played in the final of the Polo Junior Golf Classic.
“We were walking and cheering, hootin’ and hollerin’ and Roll Tiding all the way down,” Morales said.
Said Knight: “We’re always there (for each other) and we’re not even in college yet.”
Kristen Gillman, a class of 2016 golfer out of Texas, joins the trio as an Alabama commit. But they’re not done just yet.
“Oh yeah, we’re recruiting,” Knight said. “We don’t want to be too pushy, but…”
Morales added: “Our intentions are well known. But we do it with love.”