GAINESVILLE, Fla. - If Emily Bastel has the same determination and drive she showed on the golf course over her amateur and professional career, the Upper Sandusky native's next venture has the potential to have exceptional results.
Bastel was named the University of Florida's women's golf coach a week ago, taking over for Jan Dowling, who resigned in May, citing personal reasons.
The 31-year-old was an assistant last season for the Gators, helping Florida to a 12th place finish in the NCAA Championships.
"It's very exciting and since I've spent the last year or so here, I got a taste for what the University of Florida is like," Bastel said. "I'm just honored and excited to get going."
When the position came open, it was natural for Bastel to apply for the position. Prior to coming to Florida, she was an assistant on Duke University's women's golf team, helping the Blue Devils to third in the ACC and eighth in the NCAA Championship in 2010.
"It's convenient to be already to be here. It was something I wanted to go after when the position became available," Bastel said. "Once I spent that year at Duke, I knew this was something I wanted to do. I had a lot of fulfillment to help players to achieve their dreams in the game of golf."
But Duke wasn't her first foray into coaching. After playing for four years at Michigan State, where she was a four-time member of the All-Big Ten team, she served as an assistant coach for head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll. For the 1999 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and 2002 All-American and Big Ten Golf Athlete of the Year, it was quite a change of pace.
"I did a little recruiting at MSU. I had just graduated and it was the first time I had traveled on my own. I had always traveled with the team," Bastel said. "I was flying to Miami and I remember thinking 'Are they really letting me do this by myself?'"
It was her first taste of recruiting, something she did a lot more of at Duke and last year at Florida. In addition to recruiting, Bastel was responsible for tracking academic progress of the players, as well as the team's administrative duties and player development on the course. But the new coach knows she'll have even more to do as the head coach. Like her preparation on the golf course, Bastel did her homework on being a head coach.
"I've sought some advice from my old coach at Michigan State, Stacy Slobodnik," Bastel said. "She helped me through the process of getting an interview and getting hired. The men's coach (Buddy Alexander) I've leaned on him so far and it's only a few days in."
Being a first time head coach, Bastel knows she's bound to make some miscues. But she knows she has the athletic director, Jeremy Foley, in her corner.
"When I got hired, my AD told me not to be afraid to make mistakes," she said. "When you're not afraid to make mistakes that's when people achieve great things."
Foley said he feels like he made the right choice for the program.
"Emily is an impressive individual. I am confident she has what it takes to continue elevating this program," Foley said in the school's press release. "Her experiences as an assistant coach, a professional and collegiate player have given her the necessary tools for success. She has a plan for this program and I share her view for this program's potential."
Foley said he was left in awe after interviewing her for the job.
"The more she spoke, my eyes opened wide: her maturity, her quiet confidence, her plan," Foley said. "I talked to her old coach at Michigan State and the way she made herself the player of the year through her work ethic. I'm a big believer if you work hard here at the University of Florida, good things can happen. Tremendous personality, great smile and I could see her being successful recruiting. The more I spoke to her, the more excited I got because when you go through these searches, you never know where you're going to end. And all of a sudden, here's this woman right under your nose so to speak and I'm just glad she applied. I'm glad we gave her the opportunity to interview. She knocked it out of the park with me."
Bastel carried a quiet competitive fire inside her on the course during her amateur playing days. It aided her in representing the United States on the 2002 Curtis Cup team and the 2002 World Amateur Team Championship. She was a semifinalist at the 2001 U.S. Women's Amateur and was a three-time Ohio State Women's Amateur Champion (1999, 2001, 2003).
She later found success on the Duramed Futures Tour (2004, 2007 and 2009). She was the Futures Tour Player of the Year in 2007. She played on the LPGA Tour for three seasons as well in 2005, 2006 and 2008, making $178,289 in career earnings, with two top 10 finishes. She played in the three U..S. Women's Open Championships (2002, 2004 and 2005).
She knows that her six years on tour will lend to her credibility with the young women she'll be recruiting and coaching now. Bastel said to be a top-flight program, she'll be recruiting the players who want to one day play professionally, so she can relate her own experiences to those women.
The 1998 Upper Sandusky grad, who was a three-time all-state selection during her days as a Ram, said she misses playing professionally but coaching allows her to use her competitiveness in a new format.
"It's not that I like more than another," Bastel said. "The common denominator is being involved in the game and having an outlet for my competitive spirit."
Foley is hoping that drive and determination leads to big results for the Gators.
"I told Emily I don't expect national titles, and I don't put pressure on our coaches to do that, but I asked her to work really, really hard," he said. "I think Emily can build on the foundation that Jan left here. Certainly, I want our women's golf program to be relevant. I want it to be a team that's in the hunt every year, whether you win those titles or not, but I want to be in the conversation. I will tell you that about any program that we have here. I think that's certainly possible under Emily's leadership and that's why we made the call we did."