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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

December 12, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

Freshman sets the bar high in season opener

While most freshmen are busy hitting the textbooks to keep up with the workload of college classes, freshman Amanda Failla is busy with a different type of book.

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Freshman Amanda Failla takes a swing at the driving range during practice Tuesday at the Robert Trent Jones golf course at Cornell University. Failla shot an 81 at practice earlier this season. JAKE LIFSCHULTZ/THE ITHACAN

Failla shot her way into the Ithaca College record books in the golf team’s season opening match against William Smith College with a then-school record of 85 in the Bombers’ 385–405 victory at the Country Club of Ithaca.
With a slight bend in her right leg and a slight pause in her backswing, Failla’s drive can match the best on the team. But Failla said she still didn’t quite know what to expect from her first competitive match of the season and her college career.
“I was really nervous,” Failla said. “It was my first time out there, and I just hoped for the best.”
When looking at colleges in high school, Failla said finding a school that best suited her interest in physical education was her first priority, more so than playing golf.
“I first visited [Ithaca College], and I loved the campus and scenery,” Failla said. “I e-mailed [Head Coach Dan Wood] the next time I visited and met some of the girls here [on the team].”
Wood said he made it a priority to recruit Failla because of her strong golf background and success at Farmington High School in Farmington, Conn., where she was an all-state golfer.
“We were thrilled that she came to Ithaca because she was looking at some strong Division III schools as well as a Division I school at Central Connecticut State,” Wood said.
Failla said her family has always had a strong interest in golf, which made it easier to get involved when she began playing at 10 years old. Failla said her family was the most influential in her development.
“I ended up getting serious about golf when I was about 14,” Failla said. “My dad was the one that really started to push my play.”
Failla’s father, John, said she caught onto golf right from day one and was motivated to continue playing.
“She was a natural,” John said. “She really liked it and began practicing really hard. That’s when she got the ball rolling.”
Though her parents and siblings helped her learn the game, Failla said they were the first to acknowledge that she would benefit from further instruction outside the family.
“I went to golf camps, and my parents landed me a membership with the local golf course where I received the lessons from PGA professionals,” she said. “The lessons were great. They helped with everything, whether it was my swing, chipping or putting.”
Transitioning to the collegiate level of play from high school has been smooth for Failla. She said the early support from her teammates, coaches, classmates and family has helped ease the adjustment.
Sophomore Brooke Llobell, who broke Failla’s school record with an 82 last weekend, said Failla is someone who can already outplay anyone on the team.
“She has a great golf swing,” Llobell said. “She will be amazing. She will be better than all of us. Once she figures out how to calm down, she will be in great shape.”
Llobell isn’t the only teammate of Failla’s who recognizes her early contributions to the team. Senior Christie O’Shea said the team will rank near the top in the Empire 8 conference as long as Failla is on the golf course for the Bombers.
“With [Failla], we have a great chance to win the Empire 8,” O’Shea said. “When we have a freshman that is capable of playing at that level, our chances are much better.”
Failla said one of her goals for the season is to shoot in the 70s. As she prepares for her second match of the season, the Empire 8 Championship, her personal goal is something she said can fuel the entire team to keep winning.
“If I start shooting in the 70s, I hope that will encourage my teammates to shoot in the 70s. I want to compete in the NCAA [Division] III Championships as an individual or as a team. By shooting in the 70s, I will probably make it as an individual as well as help out my team.”