MELBOURNE, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - The Florida Tech women’s golf team took home the big trophy this year. They were declared national champions in Division II for the first time in school history.
“Finishing it off with a win was just a great feeling for everyone,” said golfer Lauren Watson.
But how the team got there, is an even more interesting story.
Back in February, Florida Tech announced it would be cutting some of its athletic programs – including women’s golf.
“The look of shock and tears in their eyes was just - it’s heartbreaking,” Coach Chris Saltmarsh recalled.
Several of the team members came from outside of the U.S. to play golf at the school in Melbourne. This season was suddenly their last.
“I remember one of my teammates - Lucy – she said, ‘Let’s go win Nationals now.’ Something that had never been done before and we kind of said it in a jokingly way,” said team member Paola Ortiz.
What started out as a joke turned into a reality. The team started picking up steam and made it to the Championship.
“No matter what happened, we had gone to the final day to play women’s golf this year. We could either be first or second. I don’t think they had plans on being second,” Saltmarsh said.
The title was theirs but the moment was bittersweet.
“A great finish to win but not a great finish in that we don’t get to continue next year,” Watson said.
Several of the women are transferring to other schools. Saltmarsh will continue coaching the men’s team. Ortiz graduated. Watson says she’s staying put.
“I’m going to be playing on the men’s team in the fall,” Watson said.
The program has ended and the women are scattering but this team was determined to go out on top.