Tampa, Fla. --- It was a chilly but unforgettable moment for Erika Smith.
“It was cold,” said Smith. “It was very cold, very wet but it was amazing to see so many people you know that are there for you.”
Last week, the Bulls freshman buried birdie after birdie, carding three straight under-par scores and securing her first collegiate title.
“For her to win a tournament her freshman year is amazing,” said USF women’s golf coach Erika Brennan. “It just speaks to who she is as a golfer and a person.”
“During the tournament I just focused on playing my game. I didn’t have any expectations going into it but it was amazing to be surrounded by so many people rooting for you was nice," said Smith.
Erika’s scores should come as no surprise. She was highly touted coming out of Lake Nona High School, winning a state title in 2016, and earning Rolex All-American honors in 2018.
“That was awesome. Obviously for a sport like this you work so hard at it and to finally have something like that come to fruition and come to you is amazing,” said Smith.
“When we got to see her play in person, within seconds we knew this was somebody we want to be a Bull and it just kind of went from there,” said Brennan.
Recruits choose schools for a variety of reasons. But for Erika, it was her bond with head coach Erika Brennan that convinced her to take her talents to the Bay Area.
“She’s so kind and optimistic and it’s something you don’t see in many people and to have something like that from someone you look up to and helps guide you is incredible.”
“That’s why you do what you do. Of course you want to get lower scores out of your golfers but I think it’s bigger than that. I think if you keep your eyes on the bigger prize that’s how you ultimately earn the respect of your team,” said Brennan.
As Erika’s game grows, so does the USF women’s golf program.
“We’re on a mission, and players like Erika are helping us get to where we want to be ultimately.”