Ashley Rollins: Coming full circle at NCAA Women's Golf Championships
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Longhorns senior Ashley Rollins has come full circle as she closes out her collegiate golf career this week.
A native of Austin, Texas, Rollins has spent one year playing in the Texas program for new head coach Martha Richards. And, it's been a year of special times and special accomplishments for the wiry 5-7 senior who has set her sights on a professional golf career.
Ironically, Ashley's collegiate career will end where it started as Rollins leads the Longhorns contingent into the NCAA Championships, taking place on the University of New Mexico's UNM Championship course.
Rollins spent two-and-a-half years as a member of the New Mexico golf program, earning All-Mountain West Conference honors in 2005 and 2006 while being named a National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) Scholar-Athlete as a sophomore.
Rollins certainly knows the UMN Championship Golf Course well as she holds the course's non-championship record with a seven-under 65 carded during a qualifying round in September of 2005.
With many changes happening in the UNM golf program, Rollins left the program in the spring of 2006 and did not play collegiate golf last year. Instead, she came back home to Austin and enrolled at UT to finish out her corporate communications degree.
Rollins, a standout Texas high school talent from Westwood High School in northwest Austin, did not put golf on the back burner in her year away from college golf. She played independently around Austin and then made a statement at the 2007 U.S. Women's Open Championship, playing the opening two rounds of the 2007 U.S. Open at Pine Needles Golf Club in Southern Pines, NC.
Following many conversations -- and some golf -- with new Texas head coach Martha Richards, Rollins enthusiastically joined the UT program last fall for one final go-around of collegiate golf.
"We couldn't be prouder of what Ashley has given to our program this year and how she has set the tone for the type of student-athlete we want here at Texas," said Richards.
"Ashley is just a classy young lady," noted UT head coach Martha Richards, whose first goal when taking the UT job in the early summer was to persuade Rollins to join the Longhorns program for her final year of collegiate play.
"We talk to our young team all the time about how to represent themselves and the UT program and our University and how to make sure that people respect us, on and off the course. And, Ashley epitomizes that class and maturity that we expect from our players. She just takes care of her business on the golf course and in the classroom."
"I'm thrilled to be finishing up my career in the Texas program," noted Rollins. "UT has been a wonderful experience for me, and it's just a bit surreal to be finishing up my college golf were I started. But, really, I haven't focused a lot on being back in Albuquerque, although I've enjoyed getting reacquainted with all the wonderful UMN staff and golf course staffers here. Right now, I'm just focused on the business at hand."
And, in her final season, all the uber-focused Rollins has done is: earn unanimous All-Big 12 First Team honors by vote of the league coaches while also gaining the Big 12 Women's Golfer of the Month award in February; earn Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors; hold the lowest stroke average on the UT club with a 74.6 as the Longhorns' top individual finisher in each of UT's eight regular-season tournaments. Rollins has four top-10 tourney finishes to her credit this year as well.
In her final collegiate semester this spring, the corporate communications major also registered a perfect 4.0 in the classroom. Again, she has ben nominated for a National Golf Coaches Association Scholar-Athlete Award.
In Tuesday's first round at the NCAA Championships, Rollins again carded the low round for the Longhorns with a one-over par 73.
"Ashley was tremendously helpful in our practice rounds here in Albuquerque," noted Richards. "Ashley knows this golf course so well and its tendencies and the things we need to pay attention to. So, we had a great couple of practice rounds as we learned a lot from her. That also helped us a lot in the first round Tuesday."
There was an obvious warm reception that Rollins upon her return to the UNM Championship Course.
"It's been fun to see Ashley back here in Albuquerque," Richard said. "It's a place where she is comfortable, and it's been really special for me, Tracy (Parsons, assistant coach) and our team to see what a warm welcome Ashley has received from everyone here at the UNM course -- from the assistant pros in the pro shop, to the volunteers, to New Mexico athletic personnel. It's hopefully going to be a great conclusion to her collegiate career this weekend."
Richard had some final high praise for her All-Big 12 competitor and national scholar-athlete standout.
"Ashley does everything we ask her to do, and more," Richards concluded. "As a coach, you'd love to have five or six Ashley Rollins in your program."