Brooke Pancake and Mic Potter Win the NCAA Championship for Alabama
When I consider the sports responses that various institutions and individuals trigger, the University of Alabama, ‘Bama, The Crimson Tide, makes me think of Nick Saban, Bear Bryant and line-up of football stars. Apparently, they’ve got a pretty good women’s golf team as well, and have for some time, with eight recent appearances in the NCAA Championships.
After twenty two stellar years at Furman, golf coach Mic Potter continued his winning ways at “Bama, going far into the NCAA tournament on a regular basis, although he could never quite put one over the top. Despite 12 Conference Coach of the Year Awards, the 4 varsity letterman (three in soccer, one in golf) met his perfect partner (not to mention some of her special colleagues) that got Alabama its first national title in 2012.
Brooke Pancake was among the finest to ever emerge from Tennessee high school golf, and was a tremendous force for both Baylor University and the Crimson Tide. Winner of the Honda Award for best collegiate golfer, she came within a stroke of winning the U.S. Amateur, won the Tar Heel Invitational of 2010 for the SEC, was a three time All-American, and was a dominant presence on the Curtis Cup in Scotland, with a match record of 3-1-1.
Apparently, Pancake’s teammates employ a number of endearing nicknames for their star, but the one she most prefers in “Cakes,” so “Cakes” it is. She is a recognized scholar athlete with a 4.0 GPA in Marketing, which is way under par if you look at it correctly. Pancake, by all accounts, has a healthy sense of humor, and a strong spirit in the face of tragedy.
That quality was never more crucial than upon learning that she had lost her father to suicide. She played in a “devasted” condition, and one must feel pangs for what he missed in his specacular child’s life.
It is not suggested that Brooke single-handedly won the NCAA Championship for Alabama, especially considering teammate Hannah Collier’s final round of 70. Still, Pancake two-putted from 60 feet on 18, calmly rolling in four-footer to give Mic Potter his first view from the top of the mountain. The effort was not lost upon her – “I can’t explain it – he’s been so close so many times. I’m honored to be on the team that did it for him.”
All this was of interest to me as I watched Brooke begin her years as a pro this season. Like rookies going into other pro sports, there is a technical and emotional phase through which to pass, where a player ups her game to the competition level around her, and gains the intangibles necessary to a winning habit. If it were otherwise, we might have seen Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson steal a lot of trophies. I expect to see her come through this in due time and begin to appear on the leaderboard with regularity. All the elements of a winner are here, technical mastery, stability of nerves and the ability to see opportunity instead of fear.
Being steeped in another collegiate persuasion, it would be difficult for me to yell, “Roll Tide!,” but I think for the women’s golf team and their recently graduated star, I can probably manage it. Go, Cakes!