Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Central Michigan introduced Cheryl Stacy as its new women's golf coach on Wednesday at the team's indoor practice facility at Mount Pleasant Country Club.
"We're positive we found the right person," said Executive Associated Director of Athletics Marcy Weston, who helped lead the search. "Look at a young student-athlete wanting to play golf. She's going to be coached by a two-time All-American, who qualified for the U.S. Open, played on the LPGA Tour, and has 20 years of teaching and coaching experience.
"Pretty darned good. We had several good candidates, and we looked at that whole body of work. She just kept moving up to the top. I'm just thrilled. I couldn't be happier."
Stacy coached the women's golf team at Michigan from 2009-13 after a four-year stint as an assistant in the Wolverines' program. She worked as a teaching professional for a decade in Ohio after a nine-year career as a touring pro, including a stint on the LPGA Tour. She won six tournaments as a professional.
Stacy was a two-time All-American at Ohio State, winning eight tournaments including two Big Ten titles as a Buckeye. She is a member of the Ohio State University Women's Sports Hall of Fame, was runner-up and co-medalist of the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship in 1985, won two Ohio State Women's Amateur titles, and made the cut at the U.S. Women's Open in 1991.
"We are very pleased to announce Cheryl Stacy as the coach to lead our program forward," Athletics Director Dave Heeke said. "It took a long time and we did a very thorough search. We found the right candidate with the right kind of skill set to advance our program.
"Cheryl's been a student-athlete. She's walked in the shoes of the student-athlete. She's competed at the highest level at Ohio State. She's been an assistant coach, she's been a head coach. She's been a high-level instructor at golf centers and golf clubs. She's been an LPGA player, she's qualified for the U.S. Open. All of those components, and her commitment to the student-athletes, all of those together make her the perfect fit."
As the head coach at Michigan, Stacy led the Wolverines to two team appearances in the NCAA Central Regional and two of her players earned All-Big Ten honors. Fourteen of her players garnered Academic All-Big Ten honors.
"I have family in Ohio and I wasn't really looking to relocate," said Stacy, who left after the 2013 season and last year was a teaching professional at Lake Forest Golf Club in Ann Arbor and served as the boys coach at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor. "I didn't want to get in a plane and have to fly across the country. It's centrally located and I like the Midwest. Our team has six girls from Michigan and I have experience recruiting in Michigan. That too was something that attracted me. I came to campus and I really fell in love with it.
"I love golf. It's my passion and I love coaching. I think this is the perfect fit for me. I'm super excited about this opportunity. Everything's here for us to be successful. I'm honored. I'm thrilled."
Stacy's experience at the NCAA Division I level along with her teaching and playing background are invaluable assets as she takes on the task of building a program at CMU. The Chippewas resumed varsity women's golf last fall after a 32-year hiatus.
"This building, the chipping and putting area is, I would say, as good as what we had at Michigan," Stacy said while standing in the Chippewas' indoor practice facility. "It's probably one of the top three (facilities) in the MAC. We've got hitting bays, we've got chipping and putting areas, we've got a simulator here. Just being able to swing the golf club in the winter is a huge asset."
Stacy met with her players on Wednesday afternoon before being introduced during a press conference at the practice facility.
As a new program, the Chippewas are extremely young. The eight-player roster comprises six freshmen and just one senior.
"It's kind of a clean slate," Stacy said. "To think that the program was here in the 1980s, so now it's like building a new one. That was also something that attracted me to the job.
"I haven't even seen any of the girls hit the golf ball, so I need to really see what they have. My thing is to try to get each player better each day, try to make some improvements. I'm not sure yet how we stack up with our opponents. That's something I'll need to figure out."
Stacy, like any coach in any sport on the collegiate level, said she won't attempt to tear down a player's swing and rebuild. But she is, she said, a stickler for tried and true fundamentals.
"When I'm helping a player, I look at where they are at this point," she said. "I don't try to change their whole swing. Pre-swing fundamentals in a golf swing are super important. Everyone is different. What one golfer may need, another may not. There is so much else with golf too. You have course management, short game management, and then the mental side is about 99.9 percent."
Heeke said Stacy's long-term vision also helped convince him that the university had found the right candidate.
"Cheryl is very focused on what our culture is," he said. "Our culture is about student-athletes and her program is about developing students from an athletic standpoint, about developing them from an academic standpoint, and certainly developing them from a social standpoint.
"And that's what we're all about, the entire development of the student-athlete. And that's what our program is about, and what makes our program so strong."