Player diary: Oregon's Kelsey Ulep reflects on golf career

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Player diary: Oregon's Kelsey Ulep reflects on golf career

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Player diary: Oregon's Kelsey Ulep reflects on golf career

Oregon senior Kelsey Ulep joins the Golfweek.com staff as a player blogger for the 2017-18 college season. Here’s her first player diary:

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My name is Kelsey Ulep and I am a senior at the University of Oregon. I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and moved to the mainland when I was 4 years old. I grew up in Sacramento, Calif., and began my golf career at the age of seven.

It’s actually a funny story on how I got into golf… to start off my athletic career, I was a softball player. One day, I was up to bat, and BAM, a hard pitch straight into my left eye. I was traumatized (and am still afraid to bat to this day). I quit softball forever after that, and my dad suggested I try golfing – since a batting swing and a golf swing are somewhat similar.

I immediately fell in love with the game and the competitiveness that came along with it. I won my first tournament after playing for two months. I yearned for the competition. After 10 long years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance, I was offered a scholarship at the University of Oregon – an amazing school that I am extremely grateful to attend. If I had to go through the recruiting process all over again, I would still choose to be a Duck. And I’ll tell you why.

The recruiting process is an extremely fun (but a little stressful) time in an athlete’s life. You’re constantly checking your email, making sure you’re writing professionally, saying the “right” thing, and speaking to coaches on the phone. The recruiting process can take anywhere up to a few months or even a few years.

I began communicating with coaches at the beginning of my junior year. I was ecstatic to continue my golf career at the collegiate level. I visited a few schools before viewing Oregon; they were great schools but I just didn’t get that “aha” moment with them. They weren’t quite the right fit for me.

Once I stepped foot on Oregon’s campus, I knew that’s where I belonged. I immediately felt at “home” being in Eugene. The athletic department staff is phenomenal, the coaches truly care about their players and want them to succeed, and the community is tight-knit and extremely friendly. I have never been to a place with such a welcoming aura. Everyone wants the best for you; the amount of support we receive is unbelievable. I felt like I was entering this huge family, which is one of the biggest reasons why I chose to be a Duck.

I was reminded of the how supportive the Duck family is at the 2016 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship, hosted in Eugene, Ore., at Eugene Country Club. It felt like everyone in Eugene was there to support us. There was an endless swarm of people outside of the ropes. If you don’t remember what happened during the championship that year, I recommend you try and find it somewhere online and watch it, because it was a definitely a nail biter and went into extra holes. It was intense, and those in the crowd never took its eyes off of the ball, I was literally shaking whenever Sulman Raza had a chance to win it all. It took three holes (which felt like a lifetime to us in the audience), but once Raza made the putt to win the championship, we went absolutely crazy. We stormed onto the green in excitement: the players, coaches, and the rest of community. I felt like we were a huge family. It was a moment that I will never forget, and is by far my favorite moment of being a Duck.

Overall, my collegiate experience has been greater than I could have ever imagined. The never-ending support is my favorite part of being a Duck. The University of Oregon is an amazing school, and I will forever be grateful to be part of such an amazing organization.

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