UCF Women's Golfer Valentina Fontaine has Steadily Improved

April 5, 2011

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By Josh Molino
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - A stellar freshman season set the expectations high for UCF women's golfer Valentina Fontaine. The Santiago, Chile, native had an immediate impact in her first season with UCF. Fontaine led the Knights in stroke average, earned the Conference USA Golfer of the Week award and was the top finisher for the Black and Gold in three out of four tournaments during the fall.

The accolades continued during the spring the season, as she helped lead UCF to its first team tournament title since 2002 at the Hurricane Invitational.

Most athletes at the collegiate level would be overjoyed to earn accolades that Fontaine accumulated in her freshmen season at UCF. For Fontaine, this was just the start to long successful career in Orlando. However, playing at such a high level, especially early in an athletes' career, will create high expectations and bring added pressure to perform. A tough 2010 fall season left Fontaine looking for answers.

"I'm really close to my family and I keep in contact with them every day through Skype. The support from my family is very important because I don't get to see them that often," said Fontaine.

Perhaps that is exactly what Fontaine needed, a trip home to see the family. Over the holiday break, Fontaine got the chance to spend a couple weeks with the comfort of her family: parents, Paul and Marcela, brother Paul and sister Nicole. The break allowed her to relax, clear her mind and take a break from the stress of being a collegiate athlete. The trip home also gave Fontaine the opportunity to practice on her home courses, and play with friends where she can enjoy the game of golf without any pressures of performing. For her, the most important part of golf is to enjoy the sport, and play for the love of the game, not because you have to.

"Golf is great because you have a team, but you are also an individual. At the end of the day my results rest on my shoulders. I like to compete and improve myself each time I go on the course. The only way to continually get better at what you do is to enjoy it. When I returned home I realized why I love this game," Fontaine said.

2011 brought a refreshed and refocused Fontaine back to Orlando, but this time with a new outlook on her opportunity at UCF, earning a college education as well as representing the Knights in athletics. Not only does she have her immediate family back home, but her coaches and teammates provide as her "other" family.

A major reason for Fontaine's early success came from UCF head coach Courtney Trimble and assistant head coach Mary Bryan. Both coaches have not only improved her game on the course, but given her great advice off the course. Fontaine has maintained a 3.43 GPA along with being named to the NGCA All-American Scholar team and Conference USA Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll.

"Coach Trimble is an incredible person and coach. She is not only our coach and team mom, but one of our friends who is always willing to help us and make us better. We always have a good time as a team, and a big part is that coach makes us feel comfortable. Mary Bryan is a big part of our team's success. Her attitude and energy always pumps us up (as a team) and makes it easier to appreciate the opportunity we have here at UCF. When it comes to technique she is one of the best at helping us improve our game," she said.

The Knights finish the regular season at the Conference USA Championships held in Gulf Shores, Ala., April 17-19. Trimble expects nothing less than an excellent showing from Fontaine at the season's most important tournament.

"Valentina is a hard-working, smart young woman. She is always ready to improve her game and make each individual better on the team. Next season I expect her to be one of our leaders and continue to set a great example for all student-athletes, especially our incoming freshman."