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Kelli’s Korner – signing with Texas Longhorns

One of the best decisions of my life was making the choice to attend The University of Texas and play college golf for the Longhorns in the early Fall of my Senior year…it was 1995. My days at Texas were some of the best days of my life and they continue to be a huge part of my foundation at the ripe age of 36. I have come to the realization that I still bleed burnt orange and I am proud to say…I always will.

I had every intention of following my two big brothers, Trip and Hank, and attending Oklahoma State University. I had always been with my brothers, and college was going to be no different. I took my recruiting trip, toured the facilities, told my Mom and Dad that I was going to OSU and all I had to do was sign on the dotted line. I wasn’t interested in taking any more recruiting trip to any other schools. It was a done deal. My Mom and Dad encouraged me to take my time in making my decision because ultimately, it was my decision to make.

There was one coach in particular that I had developed a great relationship with throughout the recruiting process that I had address. Her name was Susan Watkins and she was the Head Women’s Golf Coach at the University of Texas. I took my parent’s advice and scheduled my recruiting trip to Texas. The ironic thing is: I knew the minute I stepped foot on campus that I was destined to be a Longhorn. I know that probably sounds crazy…but there’s no other way to explain it…it hit me like a ton of bricks. I loved everything about Austin and The University of Texas. I loved the city of Austin, I enjoyed the culture, the food and night life were and still are amazing. Susan was the driving force in my decision to attend The University of Texas.

There was one other person in particular that sealed my fate as a Longhorn. Her name was Tina Bonci. She was and still is the Head Women’s Trainer and the Associate Athletic Director at The University of Texas. Ultimately, my relationship with Tina is one of the things I value most in my life to this day. She taught me how to take care myself, my health and address challenges to make me a better person.

I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I have been for 26 years. I took two shots a day for 11 years and have been on an insulin pump for 15 years. I was diagnosed at age 10 and have been lucky enough to work with some of the most educated people and doctors in the country. Tina was one of those people. She is also a Type 1 Diabetic. We have forged a friendship that very few people will ever understand based on the daily trials and tribulations and successes of dealing with this disease. Tina brought a humor to things that most others wouldn’t understand firsthand. She taught me a grace and humility that I didn’t know existed. I am incredibly grateful for Tina’s friendship and influence throughout the years.

A funny story about Tina and I: the British Amateur in 1996. It was the Summer between my Freshman and Sophomore year at Texas. I fired my local caddie at Royal Lytham after the 36 hole qualifier. So, my next caddie options were my Mom or Tina…I chose Tina because my Momma is not the most golf savvy person on the planet. The wind was blowing so hard the 2nd day of Match Play that Tina left my Pull Cart off to the side of the green and a gust of wind blew my pull cart into one of those infamous pot bunkers that you have nightmares about. I was putting to win the hole and all of a sudden I hear Tina say, “Jeez oh Man, Kelli.” Then she disappeared for a few minutes. She was trying to pull my Pull Cart out of the pot bunker. That took a while. Hahaha…

A few holes later…she looked at me on the tee and said, “Hit this one straight would ya? I don’t want to go marching around in the high grass trying to find your ball anymore.” I was like…“Uhhh…OK.”

It was as simple as that. We won the 1996 British Amateur. That sealed our bond and it still continues to this day.

I remember signing my letter of intent to The University of Texas. It was a great day. It was a decision that impacted my life dramatically in the best way. Finding the right school can seem like a daunting task…but when you find the right school…you will know. It hits you in the head like a lead balloon. That’s one of the benefits of College Golf Camps of America…you have the opportunity to meet and interact with 20 active college coaches per event. You will find a coach that speaks to you and you will see that you make a connection with one coach in particular and he or she will be a part of 4 of the most incredible years of your life.

So have fun, enjoy the journey and fairways and greens,


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