There are times when all it takes is a little parental push. Senior Michele Nash and the Butler women’s golf team cannot thank Nash’s father enough for giving his daughter such a big one.
Nash, the female recipient of Butler’s Most Outstanding Athlete Award for 2010-2011, quickly rose in the golfing ranks following her entry into that junior program. She was competing in tournaments by age 14 and went into Cathedral High School prepared to make the girls’ golf team.
“We moved to a house on a [golf] course when I was 12 years old,” Nash said. “My brothers were in the junior [golfing] program and my dad convinced me to give it a shot. I signed up the day the program started.”
Not only did Nash make the team, she was a four-year player. She also formed connections with Bill Mattingly and Clare Cornelius, her head coach and senior teammate at Butler, respectively.
Mattingly was at the helm of Cathedral’s girls’ golf program through Nash’s junior year before he made the jump to Butler.
“[Mattingly’s move to Butler] helped me choose where to go [to college],” Nash said. “I know his coaching style, and it was a perfect fit for me.”
The connection between Nash and Mattingly has done wonders for both.
“I know her game well, and she trusts me,” Mattingly said. “When you are around someone that long, you know what mistakes she tends to make.”
The bond between coach and player was a key to Nash’s success last season.
In addition to her Most Outstanding Athlete Award, Nash was named Horizon League Player of the Year, chosen first team All-Horizon League and named to the Horizon League All-Tournament team. Nash led the squad with a 77.0 scoring average and recorded seven top five finishes.
The biggest moment of the 2010-11 season for Nash and the Bulldogs came in the Horizon League Championship tournament when Nash earned first place overall and led the team to its first-ever NCAA Regional berth.
“[My top moment of the season was] when we won conference as a team and got to go to regionals for the first time,” Nash said. “I am glad the team got to experience being in the same field as the bigger schools.”
Nash and the Bulldogs have also benefitted from Nash’s longtime friendship with Cornelius, whom Nash played alongside all four years of high school.
“Michele [Nash] has always been a good leader,” Cornelius said. “Our friendship sets an example for the team. It shows [the younger athletes] that you need to get along with your teammates.”
The two began their senior seasons on Monday when Butler took part in the two-day Green Bay Invitational. The first day of play ended with the Bulldogs trailing Lewis by one point.
Nash and Cornelius topped the scorecard for Butler with a 76 and a 77, respectively.
“I am really excited about the team [this season],” Nash said. “Everyone from last year is working hard, and we have some good freshmen.”
No matter what happens this season, Nash will go down as one of Butler’s top female golfers. That is not likely to mark the end of her golf career, however.
“I am taking it slow and focusing on this year, but I dream of playing professionally,” Nash said. “I know I am going to do something with golf [in the future].”