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Denise St.Pierre is entering her 21st season as the Penn State head women's golf coach. St. Pierre draws from her experience as a collegiate golfer as well as a PGA teaching professional to help her student-athletes reach their full potential.
In addition to coaching the Nittany Lions, St. Pierre has also coached in international competitions throughout her coaching career.
In August of 2004, St. Pierre helped coach the U.S. team at the World University Games in Thailand where they won the gold medal. Penn State's Katie Futcher captured the individual title in that event.
In June of 1999, St. Pierre was selected by the NGCA to coach the U.S. team at the U.S./Japan Collegiate Golf Championships in Chiba, Japan, where the Americans captured their fourth consecutive title.
In its February 2002 issue, Golf for Women magazine named St. Pierre to its "Top 50 Women PGA/LPGA Instructors" list.
St. Pierre has served as President of the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA). While president, she led the membership in volunteer work in New Orleans in relief of Hurricane Katrina. At the annual NGCA convention that had to be moved from New Orleans to Tahoe, Nevada, St. Pierre introduced an idea to the membership that called for as many golf programs as possible around the country to conduct fundraisers to raise money for the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity. Through the efforts of the Nittany Lion women's golf team as well as those by more than 30 other women's golf programs around the country, the NGCA raised $60,000 to build a home for a displaced family in New Orleans. The efforts of the NGCA culminated last June when St. Pierre and several of her colleagues traveled to New Orleans and volunteered to help finish building the house that they sponsored through the Habitat for Humanity.
Prior to the start of last year, St. Pierre served as the assistant coach of the United States women's golf team at the World University Games held in Torino, Italy for the second time after also serving as the coach in 2004. She led the team to a gold medal for the second straight time as well.
A native of Syracuse, N.Y., St. Pierre chose Penn State for its academic and athletic reputation. As a Nittany Lion herself, St. Pierre's team won several team titles as well as qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
After her graduation in 1983, St. Pierre completed an apprenticeship with the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) at the Innisbrook Resort in Tarpon Springs, Fla. In 1985, she returned to the University as an assistant coach for both the men's and women's golf teams under Mary Kennedy-Zierke. She earned 1991 Mid-Atlantic/East Region Coach-of-the-Year honors.
From 2000-2004, St. Pierre served as secretary for the National Golf Coaches Association, prior to becoming the president of the NGCA following her time as secretary. St. Pierre has been a guest lecturer for the PGA teaching and coaching summit as well as the National Golf Foundation.
A Class A member of the PGA, the Nittany Lion coach has taught in New York and Florida and is currently the director of instruction at the Penn State golf courses. During the winter, St. Pierre teaches a golf conditioning class for the local community, as well as instructing health and human development classes at Penn State. She also serves as the director for the Penn State summer golf schools, and co-directs five junior camps. In addition to all that, St. Pierre is the author of Golf Fundamentals, an instructional book for recreational players.
St. Pierre offers more than just experience to her athletes; she brings with her knowledge of the sport and familiarity with the University. She had a very successful career at Penn State and looks forward to more growth and success for the Nittany Lion women. St. Pierre wants to provide life guidance as well as athletic guidance.
"It is about them being balanced and how we can encompass academics and personal growth in order for our players to reach their potential," St. Pierre says.
Players face challenges both on and off the course that affect how they play their game. As a coach, she believes she must be aware of those factors in order to help the player cope on the course.
"You have to know first what you want," she adds. "I believe every player has more potential than they realize. It is my job to help draw that potential out of them." St. Pierre wants her players to graduate from the program not only better golfers but also better people.
"In order to uphold the Penn State tradition of academic and athletic excellence," says St. Pierre, "we provide each player with a safe environment to play the game at the highest level while balancing her time in the classroom."
Every coach has a different strategy on how to run a team. Denise St. Pierre's is not just centered around golf but around education and dreams.
"I try to be supportive of student-athletes in both their athletic and academic endeavors while here at Penn State," says the 1991 Mid-Atlantic/East Region Coach-of-the-Year.
She understands that golf is not her student-athletes' entire life. Each student-athlete is also at Penn State to receive an education and a life experience.
"My main job as a coach is to discuss what our [team's] dreams and aspirations are while we're here...my goals are to help them reach theirs...I am a vehicle to allow my players to get where they want to go."
She wants her players to improve themselves in all aspects of life- as a competitor, an athlete and a person- during their time at Penn State.
This Class A teaching professional hopes that her players can develop "using my background as a player...I can display the right attitude and the right actions that I want them to follow."
St. Pierre prepares her players for tournaments, both mentally and physically. The most important thing for her is to have as much information about a tournament, including climate, environment, grass, layout of the golf course and the competition. Physically, she has her players practice the things that are most likely to occur at those sites.
"The more you know about the situation, the better you can prepare yourself both mentally and physically. The fewer the surprises, the more confident we can be," says the Nittany Lion head coach.