NCAA tourney on deck for Mount Union golfers
By Dan Hiner
Mount Union golfer Olivia DeMartino is taking part in her final college experiences prior to graduation.
Last week, the Canfield High School graduate had her last piano recital and choir concert.
Now DeMartino is preparing for her final trip to the NCAA tournament.
On May 8, Mount Union will compete in the Division III women’s golf tournament for the third consecutive year.
Nationals will be at Mission Inn’s El Campeon golf course in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
With a week before the start of the tournament, the senior has been putting added pressure on herself since it will be her last time on the course.
“Honestly it never gets easier — the nerves and everything,” DeMartino said. “We’ve been really fortunate to got the last couple years.
“But especially now that it’s my senior year, I really want to perform well for my coaches and my parents — my family’s going — and the team. It’s probably a more nerve racking experience this year than it has been in the past.”
DeMartino admits that she’s grown over the last four years as a golf.
While in high school, the former Cardinal focused on her music. But as she began to practice and play every day, she began to see an improvement in the game.
Eventually her focus shifted from music to golf.
“I really liked golf in high school but it wasn’t one of my main passions,” DeMartino said. “When I came to Mount Union, it just seemed to change because of the high emphasis of work that needed to be put into it.
“And after I started working hard and bonding with my teammates, it really pushed me to want to be better.”
DeMartino made her first trip to the NCAA tournament with three-time Ohio Athletic Conference coach of the year Dan MacDuffie. But MacDuffie resigned after 10 years with the Purple Raiders.
Matt Sindlinger, an assistant under MacDuffie, took over the program two years ago and DeMartino said nothing has changed.
“Coach Matt took over the program and one of the reason was my senior class,” DeMartino said. “I’m really grateful because he did take over for coach MacDuffie so a lot of our practices and the way the team functions stayed the same because he decided to become the head coach.
“He’s a really good person and really cares about the whole team. He’s not only improved my ball game tremendously, but he’s also motived me to be a better person.”
The Raiders finished 16th in 2016 and 17th last season.
In her two trips, DeMartino shot a 245 (57th) in 2016 and 255 (81st) in 2017.
Sindlinger said DeMartino has put in the work and helped the program reach the NCAA tournament the last three season. He said DeMartino has epitomized what the program looks for in a golfer.
“Olivia’s by far my favorite player we ever had in our program in [my] 14 years, men or women,” Sindlinger said. “She reminds me of myself, she’s such a hard worker, and she’s gonna be successful in whatever she decides she wants to do in her life.
“She’s been a great leader in our program. And I can just turn things over to her and just have her do them. I can put my trust in her and that’s what I want in a leader. She’s a natural leader in our program and that’s the reason our women’s golf program has gone as far and as high as it has.”