Going through the recruiting process can be stressful for any athlete, but that journey came to an end on Wednesday for Yuma Catholic golfer, Ali Schmunk.
Schmunk, the three-time Yuma Sun/Yuma Rotary Club Girls Golfer of the Year, signed her named on the dotted line to officially become a member of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors women’s golf team.
She describes the moment pen hit paper.
“Honestly, overwhelming,” the senior golfer said. “It’s been a long process. I’ve had to wait nine months to sign. To finally sign was super exciting and I can’t wait for the future.”
Hawaii’s coach, Stephen Bidne, first observed the talents of Schmunk in the summer of 2018.
From there, Bidne’s actively recruited the Yuma Catholic star and Schmunk became attracted to his pitch.
“He kept telling me if I end up at Hawaii, I’d have a really good chance to be the No. 1 or No. 2 golfer on the team. He sees a lot of potential in me,” she said. “Obviously, my goal is to go to college and get a full-ride while being a player.”
Schmunk ultimately knew Hawaii would be her school of choice after visiting the campus back in January. The spectacular scenery around the university and camaraderie of her future teammates secured her decision.
“The campus was beautiful,” she said. “The girls were unbelievably nice and they really pushed me to come there. They said we’re going to work together as a team, but also push each other individually.
“I didn’t get that vibe from anywhere else, honestly. I knew as soon as I left the campus, that place was for me.”
Schmunk’s always been a golf stand out in the Yuma area, but it wasn’t until her sophomore season she began to realize her talents could propel her to the college level.
“Sophomore year I knew I could go somewhere, but Division I was a different story,” she said. “I wanted to keep pushing myself until I got an offer. Once I received an offer, I wanted to practice even harder. I wanted to see where I could go from there.”
The Shamrock standout still has plenty of golf to play before she packs her bags and heads to college, but she’s thankful she doesn’t have to sweat the recruiting process during her senior season of golf.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s awesome,” she said. “It’s a weight off my shoulders, but it makes me want to work even harder.”
Schmunk’s motivation starts with her mishap from last season.
Leading by two shots in the state championship, Schmunk struggled down the stretch and ultimately finished third.
Her goal this season is to capture the title, but that begins with her improving her mental side of golf.
“My mental game needs to sharpen,” she explained. “I just need to play in a lot of tournaments and get back to the feeling of being under pressure.”
The humble and gracious Schmunk has worked tirelessly for this opportunity and has plenty to thank during her journey.
“God all the way,” she said. “Me doing this is to glorify him. It’s not for myself. It’s not for anything else, but Him. Also, my knowing my parents will always have my back and support me. My dad’s been my biggest coach and fan while my mom’s definitely my biggest cheerleader.
“Having my coaches and the support in the town, I couldn’t be more grateful.”