April 18, 2011
Senior Katie Conway is determined to help take the Notre Dame Women’s Golf program to new heights. Conway has served as a leader to the team’s group of talented freshmen, and has also played well on the course. The native of Wading River, N.Y., is currently participating in the BIG EAST Championship at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., where she is 16th after the first round of play with a six-over par 78. An all-BIG EAST selection as a junior, the finance major is part of an Irish squad that is in first place at the BIG EAST after the opening round on Sunday with a seven-over par 295 that puts them 12 strokes ahead of second-place Georgetown. Prior to departing for the BIG EAST, Conway sat down with Tom McGuire of UND.com to tell us more about herself and her career at Notre Dame.
If you could trade places with your coach for a day, what would you do? I’d probably just make the practice a series of games and competitions. One of our usual, everyday drills brings in some basketball skills. We also have a few wedge games. They’re a lot of fun, and we all really enjoy it. Coach Holt is also constantly eating Snickers — I’d probably change it to a better candy.
The women’s golf team won the Top Team GPA Award for the fall of 2010. How did it feel to achieve that goal, and what steps did you take to accomplish it? It was a really important to us to win that award and succeed academically. There’s always been an example of older players studying and setting a standard. I remember when I was a freshman; some of the upperclassmen just always had their book open. Once you establish that kind of routine, it’s very easy to make yourself do the work. We were very excited to achieve that goal.
What is your major? Why did you choose that major? I’m a finance major. I originally got into business because of the really close ties between golf and business. You always see and hear about people meeting on the golf course to do business, and I thought that would be a great fit for me. I actually looked into finance specifically because of the advice of someone I met on the course.
What is most memorable about your high school years? I think what’s most memorable about my high school years is either the time I spent traveling with my mom for junior golf tournaments, or the time I spent with my dad, who’s a golf pro, at the course. They were always there for me, whether it was going from state to state with my mom or heading out for an early round with my dad. Getting to have so much one-on-one time with each of them was really special, and its something I’ll never forget.
When did you first play golf? I actually didn’t start playing golf till I was eleven. I was definitely raised in a golf family – the Golf Channel was always on, I had been around the course since I was a little kid, and I loved to watch my dad play. But my dad didn’t want to push golf on me, so he waited until I was older and ready to start playing on my own.
Do you have any rituals or superstitions? Not really a superstition, but when I’m playing well I sing to myself in my head. When I’m thinking back to tournaments, I think back to the songs I was thinking of at the time.
What’s your favorite course to play on? I would probably say the most enjoyable round I’ve ever played was one I played when the team took a trip to Ireland. We played at Tralee Country Club, and we had a match against some Irish boys from a local high school. The course had a really unique atmosphere. It felt incredible to be playing in the area where golf was born and I got a whole new appreciation for the history of the game.
What is your favorite memory with your teammates? I think my favorite memory with my teammates would be that Ireland trip. It was a fun, no-pressure kind of trip. We had a lot of time to focus on golf, and also got a lot of time to just hang out and have fun. It was also a great to see their style of golf, and to soak in the atmosphere over there. They play the game in a very different, older style as opposed to the more mechanical type of play used today. It was an amazing trip all around.
Describe your perfect day – who would you spend it with, what would you do, and where would you be? I’d spend the day with my boyfriend, Charlie, and the rest of our families. We would probably just hang out, maybe at the beach or someplace in the mountains where we could hike, and just enjoy being able to spend time with one another.
What is your dream job? Actually, I do have a job lined up right now. I’m going into consulting for a company in Chicago. I think my dream job would be something along those lines. But I want to have a life outside of my work, have a family and time for myself. I’d really love to work in finance, work with people, and still be able to have a balance between my work and everything else.
What are your goals for this season-both personal and team? I think our big team goal is to win Big East. We’ve been close, but have never done it since my freshman year. Also, our program has never made it to NCAA finals. This year, the Regional finals will be held here, on our home course, and we’d really like to take advantage of that and get to the NCAA finals. On a personal note, I’d like to finish my career on a high note. I want to go out playing, and make sure that my last tournament is my best.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do? While I did get to go to Ireland, I haven’t been to the rest of Europe. I’d love to tour the rest of it and see all of the big sights, do all of the touristy things.
Who was your role model growing up? Why? My role model growing up was my dad, largely because of the way that he plays golf. He plays with an incredible love for the game. It goes back to when I was a little kid; I was always amazed by him. I’d always study his golf swing, and I still think he’s got the best one I’ve ever seen. I still love watching him play.
What are you listening to right now? That’s a hard question -I listen to a lot of music. My iPod is filled with rap and country, so I definitely have varied tastes. I do know all the words to Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy,” and I do love to impress people by busting out that one.
What is your favorite sport, other than golf? If I had to pick another sport to play, I’d probably pick lacrosse. It was really big growing up in Long Island. To watch, I’d go with Notre Dame football or basketball.
What does being a part of the Fighting Irish program mean to you? More than anything, it’s just a great honor to be able to call myself part of the Notre Dame community. I’ve been playing here for four years now, but every time I talk about being a student-athlete here, I still get butterflies. Every time I walk by the dome, I get chills. Getting to represent Notre Dame and wear that ND logo on the course is a tremendous honor.
What would you like to be remembered for after leaving ND? I know that our program is going to great places–we’ve already had some great achievements–but I want my class to be the start of a great dynasty of golf. I think in the future, Notre Dame is going to become one of the premier schools in the country for women’s golf. Just to know that I had some small part in that would be a great way to leave my mark.
Who is your favorite professional athlete? Why? Growing up, I always idolized Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa. I’m a very emotional player, and you can definitely see that in Ochoa’s spirit. She’s got a feisty, tough spirit. And Sorenstam’s done so much for women’s golf. By taking on men and challenging what everyone thought a woman golfer could do, she raised the standards for everyone else.
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done? The craziest thing I’ve ever done was on my trip to Alaska last summer. I took a helicopter onto a glacier and went ice climbing. It was awesome and a ton of fun, but I was definitely out of my element. That adrenaline rush is definitely something that I really enjoyed, and I’d try to do some other crazy activities to try to feel it again.
What was the biggest thing that attracted you here to Notre Dame? The biggest thing that attracted me to Notre Dame was the spirit here. Besides ND, I also visited several schools that were pretty comparable academically and had as good, if not better at the time, of a golf program. But when I came here on a Michigan football weekend, I knew within an hour that this was the place for me. Chuck Lennon, the head of the Alumni Association, gave an incredible speech that brought tears to my eyes. I loved the emphasis on `family forever’, and the incredibly community that exists here. The atmosphere was really exciting, and that was what drew me to Notre Dame.