By Jonathan Okanes
Cal Bear Blog
Cal’s women’s golf team was out on the driving range last month when the men’s team joined them. That reminded the players to ask head coach Nancy McDaniel a pressing question: Did they end the previous semester with a better team GPA than the men’s team?
It turns out they did. But the men’s golf team isn’t alone. The Cal women’s golf team had a better team GPA than any sport on campus – ever.
In each of the past two semesters, the women’s golf team has set a Cal record for highest team GPA for any sport in history. Their cumulative GPA of 3.46 in the spring of 2013 was the best ever at the time, but the team bettered the mark even more for a 3.54 team GPA last fall.
“They floor me,” McDaniel said. “Every day, I’m pinching myself. They are amazing. To do it at Cal – I feel like it’s the hardest university in the country just because of it being public – you are not given anything. That’s the nature of this campus and that’s the beauty of this campus. You’re not going to do anything for free here. So for them to be able to come in and do what they’ve done under the circumstances – I couldn’t be more proud of them. I don’t know if we’ll ever see something like this again.”
Every member of the Cal women’s golf team has a GPA over 3.0. Senior Nicola Rossler and junior Morgan Thompson each are WGCA All-American Scholars and Pac-12 All-Academic Team selections. Rossler is the first Cal women’s golfer ever to be accepted into the prestigious Haas School of Business.
“We’re really excited about it, just because we all really like school and we want to be the best students that we can and we kind of want to work against that stereotype that athletes aren’t very good students,” Rossler said. “I think our competitiveness from golf really helps us in school. We compete every week for a traveling spot, so we’re really used to performing right on the spot.”
McDaniel directs much of the credit for the team’s academic success to Rossler, the Bears’ lone senior. Rossler informed McDaniel of her intent to apply for the Haas School of Business from the outset, and McDaniel ultimately became more flexible with scheduling practice for her and others that had academic demands.
“Nico is the leader of them all,” McDaniel said. “She’s the planner. She has every detail down in a way that inspires these players. Just to have the thought that she can get into the Haas School of Business and push me to come up with ways to make it possible – I have to credit Nico quite a bit for setting the tone. When she leaves, we’ll pay attention to making sure there’s a person like that always at the helm.”
Rossler credits vigilant commitment to time management for her academic success, and she says that has rubbed off on her teammates. Rossler was on Germany’s national team from the age of 14 and was forced to find solutions to traveling, missing class and committing to golf.
“I learned at a very early age to organize my studies - missing a lot of class, talking to teachers, making sure I catch up on my own,” Rossler said. “When I was a freshman, I made time management and school a priority. I don’t think I’m so much setting the tone, but it’s more they saw that if they are organized, they can actually do things they didn’t think they could do.”
The Bears have advanced to the NCAA Championships twice in the past four years, and both McDaniel and Rossler say there is a relationship between excellence in the classroom and on the links.
“Golf is such a mental sport,” Rossler said. “If you’re good in school, you also take that into your practice. For me, I’m pretty organized with school and I’m really organized with practice as well. It helps you in golf as well.”