Hancock took over the role from former Sea Lions golf coach Noel Allen in July 2016, after a record-breaking season in which the Loma ladies registered a Sea Lions record four team titles. Hancock's team will be hoping to build on their promising end to the 2016 Fall season, which culminated with an impressive fourth place finish at the California State San Marcos Invitational in October.
Just a year removed the Sea Lion's roster contains four of the five starters who propelled the team to the NCAA Super Regional. All-PacWest selections Haley Fuller and Michelle Picca are accompanied by returners Lindsey Redmond, Mariah Fuller and Rima Antous. Joining them are the promising Freshman duo of Emily Smith (Litchfield Park, Ariz.) and Lucie Gillette (Brenham, Texas).
GH: "Lance just start off by giving us an insight into how the team has been practicing."
LH: "Coming into the coaching world, for me practice is one of the most challenging aspects of college golf, only because you are always so dependent on weather and using a nearby golf course. Trying to bring a coach and seven golfers on to a course whilst working around the revenue paying customers can be a challenge. It has always been a challenge to get everyone there in a controlled environment. Trying to find the space to hit to targets with customers around you can be very difficult. The weather has also been poor in the last week, we're practicing as much as we can but other than that, things have looked promising."
GH: "How has it been taking over from Noel (Allen) and coming into a new environment as a golf coach?"
LH: "It has been a blessing and a good honest challenge for me because I did come from a professional sport where you are dealing with individuals who are very self motivated by their career and making enough money to consider themselves as successful. I've moved on to student-athletes, who really are part of a team environment, it's really a golf team. It has been an interesting journey so far, everyone has been really helpful and accommodating. I've learned a great deal, much more than I ever thought I could in the short period of time I've been here. I never knew there were so many moving pieces to coaching a small seven-player women's team."
GH: "It sounds very rewarding though, what would you say has been the most rewarding part for you so far?"
LH" "Just meeting such quality women on the team and having quality coaches who love the university and quality administrators who support me. To sit in a faith-based environment, where you can show your vulnerabilities and understand that people won't judge you but instead pray with you. That's an incredible feeling to wake up with."
GH: Talk a little bit about the fall season, you ended the season very well with a fourth place finish at the California State San Marcos Invitational. How does that set you up for the champion portion of the season?"
LH: "Yeah we did do well. In all fairness to the women on the team they came into another change. For some of these women they have literally worked with and played for four different people, so they entered the fall season of 2016 with another new face to get to know and play with. Really before we even got any practice in, we were off heading to San Francisco to play at Presidio. There was a lot of rust from the team, not knowing me and not knowing how I work and being out of competitive and tournament ready practice. We took it day by day. I was trying to learn the job, they were trying to understand me and I was trying to understand what they needed. I'm very proud of all of them, we worked very hard and practiced well. I just think from a tournament standpoint it is about putting the reps in and getting tournament ready."
GH: "Talk about those returners, are there any you can pinpoint that have really helped you so far, who do you see as standing out in the new season?"
LH: "Well you know sitting down and getting to know them, I was obviously very impressed with our senior group: Mariah Fuller, Lindsey Redmond and Rima Antous. They became just by seniority a really good sounding board and security blanket. I'm extremely impressed by their golfing ability. Michelle Picca is very impressive, just the amount of heart and guts she shows. Coming from an LPGA background, she probably reminds me most of where I came from. She just has that inner strength. Haley Fuller is a quality person, a quality golfer and was a leader from day 1."
GH: "Haley is an interesting one, she ended the fall really well with a 72 at the Cal State San Marcos Invitational. Just your thoughts on Haley? I know she must be quite a crucial player."
LH: "Yeah extremely crucial, and once again she, by her own admission, didn't have a great fall but she was very impressive every time she played. Once the rust goes it will be very exciting to see her play and the potential is there.
GH: "Who are the newcomers on the team?"
"Emily Smith is the freshman. I'm so excited to see what she does with this career of hers, she's going to be a real leader and force in PacWest golf. Lucie Gillette the other freshman, I'll tell you she is a quality person. We found ourselves in a situation where we were having two of the six players injured. We had to go out and recruit Lucie from some earlier interest. She was somebody who we knew played and wanted to play, she came out and met the team and she is growing very quickly from a talent aspect of playing golf. She has been such a wonderful spirited addition to our team and she gives people a lot of joy."
GH: "I really think that's something I've noticed from you guys this year that resiliency. It has been a real team effort. I'll end by asking for your hopes for the new season. Can you tell us about your goals and any tournaments you have identified for your team?"
LH: "For me it is about getting tournament ready. If you were to watch these women getting prepared to play tournament golf you would say they are extremely talented. They practice well and show that talent. Anxiety is a natural part of playing golf and in any sport you have to embrace it and meet it head on and learn how to control it instead of running away from it. It can at times overwhelm them. They are just a really caring group, they care a lot about each other, the university, the department and me. They don't want to let anyone down. It adds to their anxiety when they have a bad hole or score. I have a lot of optimism as we go forward. They know the talent is there, they just have to get comfortable with me and understand they can trust me. I certainly trust them and I have no doubt they are one of the most talented teams out there."
GH: "I guess with the PLNU Reach 2017 coming up, it will be an opportunity to play at home and play their own game?"
LH Exactly. This couldn't come at a better time for them.
The Point Loma Women's golf season resumes with the annual PLNU Reach at Riverwalk Golf Club on Feb. 6 at 8 a.m. For more information click here.