BETHLEHEM, Pa. – With one tournament remaining in her junior year, Chelsea Michalek has already led Lehigh’s women’s golf team to its second straight win at the Sunshine Spring Classic. Individually, Michalek has accumulated five top-ten finishes.
The Chicago native says that her biggest accomplishment to date was leading the women’s golf program, to its first ever tournament wins as a program. Given that the Lehigh Women’s Golf program is relatively new, beginning play just ten years ago, Michalek and others around her realizes the big impact her skills have had and can have on the team.
Lehigh assistant coach Mary Kate Williams said, “Chelsea is obviously a wonderful leader on the team, she always gives 110%. She definitely the has the potential to be the best golfer Lehigh has ever had and to take her career outside of Lehigh by playing professionally.”
Michalek, who is a marketing major with a minor in communication, said she sees a future for herself that heavily involves golf.
“This summer I am going to play in more national tournaments like the USGA Tournament, US Women’s Open Qualifier and US Women’s Amateur Qualifier,” she said. “Ideally if I can play well in those, I might try to play on LPGA TOUR and if that doesn’t work out I can fulfill my passion of golf through sports marketing.”
The Gamma Phi Beta sorority member first started to develop her passion for golf in the eighth grade when her older brother began to pick up the sport. She fondly remembers that not only did her older brother help her get into the sport, but her grandfather helped foster her passion for golf.
“My grandfather was a big golfer in my family; he would always take me out to his club and show me different shots and techniques,” Michalek said.
Since high school, the current Lehigh women’s golf captain has taken the sport very seriously and developed a working habit of practicing the fundamentals because she knew she wanted to play golf at the collegiate level. In 2009, her hard work paid off when Lehigh recruited her for golf.
“I chose Lehigh because it was a perfect balance, it is competitive academically and has a great golf environment,” she said.
As a freshman, Michalek struggled with the sport.
“I never broke through my potential freshman year, so over the summer I worked really hard to improve,” Michalek said.
After spending the entire summer after freshman year playing in local golf tournaments around Chicago and focusing on weak areas, Michalek said she felt her hard work pay off sophomore year.
“(The) Penn State (tournament) sophomore year was very memorable for me when I shot one under par,” Michalek recalled. “I felt like all my hard work had paid off.”
Although Michalek has had three different coaches in the past three years, she characterizes the experience as a very smooth transition.
“It has been a smooth transition because our team is so self-run,” she said. “We hold each other accountable in terms of being successful in the weight room, the golf course and the classroom.”
“Chelsea is always ready to go,” Williams added. “She always practices and is always there to help out.”
“I have always been super competitive and I knew I wanted to be someone on the team everyone depended on to play well and score the lowest,” said Michalek. “I am continuing to set expectations for myself.”
Although Michalek and the Mountain Hawks’ 2011 season will end this weekend at the Roar-EE Invitational in Suffern, N.Y. Michalek said she is looking forward to making the most of her upcoming senior year.
“This summer I want to pinpoint areas I want to work on so that I can make my last year the best it could be,” she said.
The Mountain Hawks will play their fourth and final spring tournament of 2012 at the Roar-EE Invitational, hosted by Columbia University Friday and Saturday at the Spook Rock Golf Course in Suffern, N.Y. Lehigh finished fifth in a 13-team field last year and will open action in this year’s 14-team event Friday at 9:30 a.m.
Story by Opeyemi Akinbamidele’12