Q & A With Assistant Coach Sara Doell
March 8, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Assistant Coach Sara Doell
Doell is in her fifth season as the assistant coach of the women's golf team. She graduated from Penn State in 2000. She was also a captain on the women's golf team from 1999-2000.
Q: What is it like being the assistant coach for the Penn State women's golf team?
A: It's actually a dream come true to be able to coach at your alma mater. I really enjoyed the opportunity to come back after having played here and seeing what it's like on the other side as a coach. To be able to use some of my experience as a player to help these girls is actually very rewarding.
Q: Why did you decide to come back?
A: Denise (St. Pierre) actually called me a couple years after I graduated and offered me the job. I turned her down because I was not in the right place in my life professionally and I would have been coaching my old teammates. So, I said to her, call me again if the job opens. Two years later, the assistant left for a head coaching job and she called me again and I knew that it was time to come back. I feel very fortunate that she gave me a second chance.
Q: What is it like working for Denise after you have played for her?
A: I think it's a big advantage having played for her because I know how she works. I know what her coaching philosophies are and what her beliefs are and her personality. After I graduated, I kept in close contact with her and with the team. I would come back a lot or go to events when they would play down in the Carolinas because that's where I lived. I think it's an advantage because I kind of understand what to expect and what her philosophies are. I was fairly successful here as an athlete so I believe in a lot of what she teaches.
Q: How do the challenges differ from being a coach to being a player?
A: Sometimes as a coach, it can be frustrating if you don't feel like you can help a player. There are 10 or 11 girls on the team, so you might be able to consistently help seven or eight of them and a couple of them you just feel like you can't. That can be hard as a coach. Sometimes, you have to put yourself back to what it was like to be a player and realize the challenges that they're facing between balancing schedules, school, social life, golf, travel and anything else. As a coach, you forget what their actual schedule is like. You kind of have to go backwards and remember that.
Q: What is it like working with this group of girls?
A: These girls are great. I have a great group this year. I've been here for five years and I have really enjoyed all of the girls that have come through here, but this group has a lot of dynamics. We have a lot of different personalities and a lot of different backgrounds. It brings challenges, but these girls have found a way to work through a lot of that. I've enjoyed helping them get through issues and also watching them work it out themselves. They're a lot of fun.
Q: Do you miss being a player?
A: I do. Sometimes it's hard to watch golf for a living because it makes me want to play more. People joke, `you work in the golf business, you're a coach, and you play golf.' It doesn't work that way. You might be at the golf course all day and the last thing you want to do is actually go out on the golf course and play yourself. You've been at the golf course for eight hours so you kind of want to go home. I definitely miss competing, but I know that I can go out and play whenever I want.
Q: What is a memorable coaching experience you have?
A: There's a couple. My first year back, I got to go to Ireland with the team. When I was a senior on the team, I actually got to go to Ireland as a player. Five years later I come back and the team goes to Ireland. That was a great experience for me to be on both sides of that. Helping organize the trip when I came back was fun. I did have a great experience this past fall when freshman Emily Ransone won the home tournament. I got to walk the last four holes with her and she finished birdie, birdie, par, par and won by two. That was really a great experience for me to be able to walk through with her. She would have done it without me there. It was just nice to be there and to talk her through some of the shots and just be a part of that. That was a really rewarding hour I would have to say.
Q: Do you have anything in particular that you try to instill into your players?
A: I'm a very positive person. Some of the girls on the team are always joking. One of the girls on the team calls me `Positive Polly.' She started that this week. That's what I think I bring to the table. I try to always have a positive light on everything. I try to always instill to the girls that no matter what, there is always something positive to look at. I think that's what I bring to the table and I think I actually bring some energy. I like to have fun and I like to keep it interesting. I think the girls appreciate that.
Q: How did you get involved in the game of golf?
A: When I was eight years we were at a family function and my uncle pulled out a set of clubs and let all of us kids hit. I took my first swing and hit the ball over his head and into the next-door neighbor's yard. He took me out for lessons the next year.
Q: Why did you choose to play at Penn State?
A: I had my schools narrowed do to Greensboro, James Madison, Southern Illinois and Penn State. As soon as I came on this campus I just knew that it was home. It was nice to be able to play and obviously to be able to come back was great. I knew that this was home.