EUGENE – Ria Quiazon, Oregon's new women's golf head coach, sat down with GoDucks.com for to talk about the exciting opportunity to join the Duck staff and work with another of the West Coast's top teams.
The 2009 West Coast Confonference Coach of the Year Quiazon has quickly established herself as one of the nation’s brightest head coaches after elevating San Francisco into the national elite the past two seasons.
In her prior experience as an All-Pac-10 and All-Region player, she helped lead the University of California to three NCAA appearances and Pac-10 Conference and West Region titles. She also played on various Phillipine National Teams and professionally from 2003-06 on various tours.
Q: What attracted you to Oregon initially, and once you interviewed in person?
A: “The potential for the program is limitless. They have amazing facilities athletically and academically, and the golf courses are within a close proximity to the campus. During my visit, I was impressed with the Emerald Valley facility - it allows you to hit every single short game shot imaginable. The support system around athletics like the treatment center and new academic center they are building shows that the commitment to student-athletes is Oregon’s number one priority. I love that it’s a Pac-10 school, but it also has a family and community atmosphere. I also enjoyed meeting the top administrators, and appreciated that they are great coaches, as they directly understand our challenges since they have been in our shoes and will be great mentors for me.”
Q: You’ve seen the Oregon team at several tournaments this year – talk about the talent of the team you’re inheriting.
A: “They have great quality and depth – a competitive roster from the first player through the eighth that I’ve never had before and am really looking forward to. Among the returnees, there’s no question that Kendra (Little) has All-America potential. I spoke with her last week, and loved that she isn’t ready to settle for Second Team All-Pac-10. Virtually every team member here has played at major events before so they have great experience as do the freshmen, Cheyenne (Hickle) and Avery (Sills). Another thing I like is that team doesn’t just expect to go to regionals, they want more. It sounds like they’re open-minded and ready to work hard. Seeing what Casey (Martin) has done with the Duck men’s team and getting them to nationals back-to-back years is impressive, and we should have the same types of goals.”
Q: You were one of California’s top players when you graduated in 2003 - are you excited about being back in the Pac-10 again?
A: “Absolutely – that will be a huge recruiting tool – the facilities and players we have at Oregon are unmatched. Being able to play the top teams in the nation each tournament is both an honor and challenge. I’m looking forward to building a new life here, and continuing the existing tradition.”
Q: The Cal program became a national power during your time as a player there – look back at those teams and how the team was able to raise its level so noticeably.
A: “There hadn’t had a lot of history on the national end before, so it was special to watch it develop and be a part of the whole process. Over the years, we created a culture of hard work, trust, and all had a common goal and worked hard. That led to us being ranked second nationally, and winning Pac-10 and Regional championships. Hopefully, developing some similar core values will also lead to great results.”
Q: Did you have any prior connections with the Oregon program, players or staff, or ever play any major events in Eugene?
A: “It’s come full circle in a way since I played the Pac-10 Championships here my freshman year at Eugene Country Club, and we now have the opportunity to host it again next year. Though I don’t have direct connections with previous Oregon programs, I understand the pride and prestige of playing in the Pac-10, and what it feels like playing for your home state.”
Q: Are there any plans on retaining interim coach Meredith Jones on your staff?
A: “Definitely. She’s a staple of the Eugene golf community has a great relationship with the players, and we share a lot of the same values about the student-athlete experience. I watched her interact with the players this spring at various tournaments, and I was impressed. I called her the morning of her wedding (June 20) and asked her to be on our coaching staff, and thankfully, she accepted.”
Q: What things were you most proud of in your tenure at USF?
A: “We had a great season last year and improved our national rating by almost 30 spots from my first to second years. We won two tournaments, broke several scoring records, improved our scoring average by almost 5 strokes, and had a WCC Player of the Year. We accomplished so many great things, but what I was most proud of is the well-rounded experience we were able to provide out student-athletes. In addition to making improvements in their golf game, they also became better leaders in the community and truly more balanced students.”
Q: What were some of your highlights as a collegiate player or coach?
A: “At Cal, it was fun to be a part of a team that won seven tournaments and made history. Making history is also something we did at USF, and I hope to continue here. My college experience was so valuable, because I understand what it’s like to be a part of an up-and-coming team, as well as a team that is ranked second in the country.”
A: “As far as professionally, playing in the Women’s Open and Women’s Cup was great, and also being on the same chipping green as players like Annika Sorenstam for the first time is always memorable.”
Q: Your bio said that you started playing golf later than some, and even played on a boy’s high school team – talk about your roots in the sport.
A: “My career kind of started out as day care (laughing). My brother, who is two years younger and more into golf then, would want to go out to the driving range so I would tag along, too. I remember at the range I would hit his three iron since it was the longest iron in his bag, but in reality was the wrong club to use. Then, when I was in sixth or seventh grade, my dad would pick us up and take us to a local nine-hole course, drop us off, and come back and pick us up after work. We loved the sport because it was fun, and we were surrounded by great people, and it just grew to be something I wanted to be competitive at. My freshman year, we didn’t have a boy’s or girl’s team at Logan High School, so I was a one-person team. We then had a full varsity boy’s team my sophomore, junior and senior years. I still played from the same tees as the boys, played number one and won the boy’s league title my junior year, I think. I also played basketball and volleyball, too, and also some club volleyball, but ultimately shifted my focus to golf because that’s where I saw the most potential.”
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