Waking up on Wednesday morning, I was full of excitement, ready to begin our Spring 2012 season and hopeful to make it one to remember. The fact that our first destination was Victoria, TX didn't hurt either. We couldn't wait to leave snowy Toledo and head to the sunny, warm weather of the South. After spending the winter months practicing inside, we were ready to see our improvements pay off in spring competition.
We planned to meet at the van like usual, but this morning had an extra special surprise in store for us. Coach had sent our van "Rocket Rhonda" in for a makeover and we couldn't wait to see her. We were all so excited to see the new graphics covering the van. It really does make us look like a championship team. Thanks Coach!! We loaded up the van and hit the road to the Detroit airport.
While traveling as a team, we often get several questions as to what type of team we are. We have certainly heard some interesting guesses over the years. On this trip in particular, one man asked if we were a chess team (luckily, he gave a little wink.) We promptly explained who we were and before we knew it, we were landing in San Antonio. When the pilot announced the 78 degree and sunny weather outside, I think we all jumped out of our seats. We corralled all of our checked luggage and met Coach and Kim with the rental van. Next in store for us was a two-hour drive from San Antonio towards the coast to Victoria. I personally had never been to Texas so I had no idea what to expect. I wondered if I would see tumbleweed? Or maybe some cowboys? We did pass a ridiculous amount of horses and cows. There was a town named Smiley and a water tower with the name "Waterin Hole." I got a pretty good taste of what this Texas adventure would be just by seeing some of the local scenery.
As we were entering Victoria, it was starting to get dark. We were driving in a 15-passenger van, just trying to make it to our hotel after a long day of traveling. All of a sudden, we felt a slight tap on the back bumper. The three of us in the back seat looked back and see another car sitting there on the bumper. Of course our very observant Kate Hoops had been turned around and saw the whole thing happened, with no warning to anyone. Thanks Kate for the heads up! (Note: there were absolutely no injuries or damage from this accident) Coach proceeded to turn onto a side road, expecting the perpetrator to follow, but I guess they don't do that in Texas because the other car simply drove off. So, yes, the Toledo Women's Golf team fell victim to a hit-and-run. While pulled over, Coach called 911 to report the accident. The dispatcher asked where we were and we could not give an adequate location, since we were "from Ohio." We went to a nearby gas station to wait for the police. While there, we decided to pass the time by "Wop-ing" in the parking lot. Needless to say, we were asked if we were a "dance troupe" and had quite an audience. Then, a real-life cowboy pulled up and we of course asked for a picture. Eventually, the cop (named CJ) came to evaluate the damage and was very friendly.
We moved into the hotel in Victoria and settled in for a five-night stay. We got to bed for an early night, preparing for a great five days of golf. The next morning, we got to the course and received the exciting news that we would be playing 36 holes in carts for the day. We needed to get some practice holes in before our head-to-head match the following day. We all had a great time playing together outside all day long and also shot some good numbers.
Our first day of competition was Friday morning with a head-to-head match versus Western Illinois. We would be playing in twosomes in a stroke-play format. At the end of the day, we were led by Nam, who shot a stellar one-under 70. Lauren Stephens also threw in a career-low round of 75. We ended up winning the match 303-340, shooting our lowest round of the whole year. Due to this fantastic round by the Rockets, Coach and Kim had a surprise up their sleeves for us. We had 15 minutes to change our clothes and be back at the van. We had no idea where we were going, but we just got in the van to leave. After about 40 minutes, we arrived at a small coastal town with a pier overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. We all rushed out of the van and ran towards the water. While getting some team pictures, a seagull came cruising in and started to hover right above our heads. I'm sure you can all imagine a group of screaming girls, scared of a harmless seagull. But, of course, we enjoyed a good laugh afterwards. I've said this before, but trust me when I say there is never a dull moment with this team. We spent some time on the pirate-themed playground and then headed over to a beach. We were anxious to get in the water, so we threw off our shoes and ran towards the ocean. I have never been a huge fan of the ocean, so I simply put my toes in and observed my teammates venturing deeper. All of a sudden, I feel something on my foot and it looks like a piece of plastic. Stephanie yells "JELLYFISH!" Naturally, I freak out and start screaming and running, while Coach is yelling at everyone to get out of the water. Again, we enjoyed some great laughs as a team, knowing we would leave with at least a few stories to tell. We ate dinner at a local sports grille, located on a lagoon that housed an alligator, or as Kate says "gator-meat!" On the way back to Victoria, we stopped at Dairy Queen for ice cream as a reward for meeting our goal Coach set for us for the day. Winning, the beach and ice cream all in one day certainly was a day to remember.
Saturday was our practice round day for the Claud Jacobs Challenge at Victoria Country Club. A rainy morning postponed our morning practice session, which made time for a study break in the clubhouse. An earlier tee time was made in order to accommodate the rain-soaked course. After a solid practice round, we were treated to a tournament feast, and I mean a feast. Shrimp, chicken, and plenty of dessert made for a delicious dinner to lead into the long, grueling day ahead of us.
We woke up Sunday, put on our uniforms, tied our bows in our hair, and headed to the course. As tradition required, we held our warm-up dance party in the parking lot to our favorite songs before the other teams arrived. Some of the pros at the course stopped to witness our show-stopping dance moves. When the time came to tee off, we headed to our holes and were off. The first two rounds started off a little rough for the Rockets, but we battled to a 10th-place showing after the first day.
Monday we woke up with a new attitude, prepared to go low and show the field what Toledo golf is made of. I could tell it was going to be a much better day. It certainly was still a hard battle to fight out on a course that was made much longer due to the conditions, but we pulled through in the final round. We could not have done it without Kate Hoops, who shot her career low, 72, with five birdies. Our score of 309 was the third lowest score of the day and moved us up third spots to seventh place. We were all very happy with our comeback effort and a solid showing in our first outing of the year. It was time to pack up the van again and leave Victoria to head to San Antonio. Leaving with a good feeling about how we played is always great and we were excited for the plans Coach had in store for us for our last night in the Lonestar State.
We arrived in downtown San Antonio, changed into our summer dresses for the evening and set out on the town. We walked to the Riverwalk and were amazed by the sight. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. Whoever has not been there, I would highly suggest you take a trip because it is certainly a unique place. After doing some souvenir shopping, it was time for dinner. Coach certainly had outdone herself this time. A riverboat pulled up to us and the waiter began setting the table on the boat. It soon became evident that we were going to get to enjoy a private riverboat dinner cruise. We boarded the boat and could tell immediately that we were in for a treat. Dinner was absolutely delicious and it was a lovely night for a cruise on the water. There were plenty of jokes exchanged and we "Wop-ed" on the boat with the music playing on the speakers. I would honestly say it was an experience that I will never forget.
This trip was definitely an amazing week spent with some of my favorite people. There were countless hysterical moments, great golf scores, and a few learning experiences. I can honestly say my first trip to Texas was a success because I met a real cowboy and even saw tumbleweed. I hope to be able to go back sometime and see even more. As for the team, I am so excited about what this season has in store for us. We have an awesome group of girls, whom I have an enormous amount of faith in. We will be practicing hard here in Toledo before we leave for our Spring Break trip to Rio Verde, AZ next week in preparation for the Rio Verde Invitational. 'Til next time Rocket fans!