Golf is back for the Athenas, and for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps player Jeissy Lee CM ’25 this season feels “like a redemption year.”
Last spring, the CMS women’s golf team entered the SCIAC tournament as the team to beat, but was the first eliminated team when multiple players tested positive for COVID-19, shattering their hopes that they would make it to nationals.
Thinking their season was over, the Athenas returned to campus for spring exams. But just as they had begun studying, the team received word they earned a bid to nationals through a lottery pick. With little preparation and in the midst of exam-cramming, the Athenas struggled to live up to their lofty expectations, managing to finish middle of the pack, placing ninth of 15 teams.
Although the season starts in the spring, the Athenas are using this pre-season period in the fall to build momentum. Ella Chiu CM ’26 and Esther Lee CM ’26 have made their way into the top six — the group of players selected to play in future tournaments — after the team’s first two events. At the Cal Lutheran Invitational, where the Athenas placed third, Lee had the team’s best score at two over par along with Irene Jun CM ’24.
Initially, the transition from high school to college golf was difficult for Chiu. Balancing long afternoons on the course with late nights in the classroom quickly became the new norm, but she credits her new team for helping her adjust and feel at home.
“The team dynamic is so inclusive and tight-knit,” Chiu said. “No matter what happens, matches and practices always end on a positive note.”
A collective team spirit is central to success for the Athenas. Senior captains Lucy Bloomstran SC ’23 and Elena Anderson HM ’23 have worked hard to establish an inclusive environment so that the newcomers such as Chiu felt welcome and eager to compete.
But can this culture established by the captains carry onto the course? Currently, there are no seniors in the top six. According to Lee, lack of veteran leadership in competition hasn’t been a problem. The young team has been unfazed in the face of adversity, which can be attributed to new Assistant Coach Keilee Besho.
“[Besho] is the captainly figure on the team for sure,” Lee said. “She is also very active in the practices and encourages us to play our best.”
Last Saturday, the Athenas headed to San Dimas Canyon Golf Course to host the Claremont Invitational. Despite facing a historically tough conference opponent in the University of Redlands, no team came close to competing with the Athenas. Posting a total score of 579 (3 over par), the team won the two-day tournament by 12 shots. Still, Lee believes that there is more work to be done before the spring season starts.
“As a team, we have a great short game,” Lee said. “We just need to be more consistent.”
The Athenas are ready to reclaim what is theirs. The SCIAC tournament may seem like a long way away, but a successful spring can only be built from a strong fall, starting with the victory at the Claremont Invitational. Let the “redemption year” begin.