Monica Schumacher goes from club team to NCAAs for Wake Forest

Brian Westerholt/Sports On Film

Monica Schumacher goes from club team to NCAAs for Wake Forest

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Monica Schumacher goes from club team to NCAAs for Wake Forest

STILLWATER, Okla. – Monica Schumacher knows she wasn’t supposed to be here.

Just 13 months ago, she was a member of Wake Forest’s women’s club team as she continued on a pre-med track at the school. She had no intention of changing course until Dianne Dailey, Wake Forest’s women’s golf head coach, called her roughly a week before the 2017 ACC Championship about a potential opportunity to join the team.

Injuries and departures had left the Demon Deacons with just four players on the roster able to travel to ACCs. They wanted a fifth for the conference championship, so Dailey contacted the captain of the women’s club team at Wake Forest and inquired if any players were good enough to compete for her squad.

The captain messaged back with Schumacher’s name. After Dailey’s initial contact, she informed Schumacher the day before leaving for ACCs that she would need to get certified by the NCAA to join the team. She enthusiastically agreed, to her new coach’s amazement.

“She’s somebody who’s just so courageous,” Dailey said. “To get in a team van and not know anybody on the team and to play your first tournament at the ACC Championship … How many students would feel self-assured enough to do that?”

Schumacher finished last at that ACC Championship by nine shots and knew going in that this could’ve just been a one-off. But Dailey loved her coachable attitude, and when Schumacher inquired about remaining with the team the following season, her coach replied, “Absolutely, you’re one of us now.”

Right out of a dream

The junior is competing at the NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek Golf Club after a season in which she’s started for the team in all but three events. It’s a scenario she could not have dreamed up.

“My life has literally changed,” Schumacher said. “It’s just unbelievable, going from the club team to being at nationals.”

Schumacher, 20, has quickly become a vibrant presence for Wake. She’s become especially close with star junior Jennifer Kupcho, who marvels at her friend’s fearlessness.

“She has a big personality, says whatever she wants, does whatever she wants,” Kupcho said with a laugh.

Schumacher has become a necessity on this year’s team. Three of the eight players on the roster have been injured, meaning Wake Forest wouldn’t have had five players to bring to an event without Schumacher’s presence.

She has improved drastically on-course this season, so much so that at a recent match with Duke, head coach Dan Brooks told Dailey, “I can’t believe that’s the same person.”

Schumacher beat two players this year at ACCs. A final-round 78 at the Bryan National Collegiate helped Wake Forest win that event. Her score counted twice in three rounds at the NCAA Championship and completes her week 129th in the 132-player field. (Wake Forest finished in a tie for 16th through three rounds. The Demon Deacons were eliminated, as only the top 15 teams advance after 54 holes.)

Schumacher, by the way, remains on the pre-med track despite juggling Division I golf. She originally thought she’d play Division I before deciding her junior year of high school that she wanted to go pre-med and focus on academics.

She’s produced a 4.0 GPA both semesters this season. Schumacher wants to be a physician assistant. She will remain on the team next season, and after graduating plans to take a gap year to build up her clinical hours before going off to physician assistant school.

For now, she can say she played in a national championship for Wake Forest.

Dailey is happy how things have worked out.

“Monica’s such a pleasure to have,” the coach said. “I just can’t say enough good things about her.” Gwk

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