The Virginia women's golf team opens play at the NCAA Championships Wednesday, May 18 in Bryan, Texas at The Traditions Club. Senior Calle Nielson took time out before the tournament to talk to VirginiaSports.com about playing in the national championships for the fourth year in a row and her career at UVa.
Question: This is the fourth consecutive year the team has advanced to the NCAA Championships. Do you ever stop to think about that accomplishment? UVa is one of just seven teams at this year's NCAA Championships to go four consecutive seasons.
Nielson: It is really cool. When coach told us we were one of seven teams to go four years in a row, I think we all realized that was a pretty big accomplishment. Sure, we would like to win a national championship, but to just go four years in a row, and to be one of just seven teams to do that, it's pretty cool.
Question: UVa has established itself as one of the nation's top programs during your career. How does it feel to be a part of that and to have helped the team take those steps?
Nielson: Look at the teams we played my first year here and then look at the tournaments we're playing in now. We're playing in the biggest events against the best fields. I think that's what this program needed. It has been cool being a part of this.
As a player, you know you are always a part of Virginia. You are always going to carry that. That is important to me because I knew I was a part of "that" team. In the future, when they win national championships, I will always know that I played for Kim and I was part of the beginning of what she will built. It is weird because we are her first graduating class. I have thoroughly enjoyed it.
Question: The team played at Texas A&M's course, the site of the NCAA Championships, last fall. Having seen it and played it, how do you think it suits this team and lineup?
Nielson: I think it is a very good course for us to play. I think it is going to be long which isn't bad for us. We're okay with long. The greens are small and we should take advantage of that because we are phenomenal ball strikers. We can definitely score on that course.
Question: What are your personal goals for the NCAA Championships?
Nielson: I'm looking to win. I've been here for four years and I've been close. I was sixth one year. I feel confident because I'm playing really well right now.
Question: You had a rough go of it at the ACC Championships, finishing fifth on the team. That was the first time that happened to you since your freshman year. What happened there?
Nielson: I put a lot of pressure on myself to win ACCs and to try to help the team win as well. Everything just sort of got discombobulated with my body and everything was not going well. It happens. I went and saw somebody about my putting right when we got back from ACCs. I needed a different view of seeing some things I was doing. That helped to fix it.
Question: You are extremely competitive. Does that have its positives and negatives playing college golf?
Nielson: I am very competitive. Being in an individual sport and also playing on a team, you want to beat the girls on your team, which frankly stinks. I do want to be number one on the team and I do want to win, but you have to overcome that, especially being on a team. You have to learn to save that one stroke that might put you in sixth place instead of second place behind one of your teammates. If that is what it is going to take, then so be it. I have learned a lot about that being here. It has been very hard. I put more pressure on myself that anybody else does.
Question: What do you like to do away from golf?
Nielson: I hang out with my roommates a lot. If I could go to the beach, I would do it every single day. I like to go hang out by the pool and read.
Question: What's on your summer reading list?
Nielson: I'm reading those Stieg Larson books, the Millennium trilogy ... I started the second one, but I need to go back and start over because it has been so long since I picked it up. Then I have to read the third one. There are some golf books I want to read. Golf Dreams, The Talent Code. I'll go into a store and pick up The Last Song or something cheesy like a Nicholas Sparks book.
Question: Does it seem like your time at UVa has passed quickly?
Nielson: Oh gosh yes. I remember being in high school and thinking that my first year was never going to get here and I can't believe I'm getting ready to play in my last college tournament. It has been cool. I never thought seeing Kristen (Simpson) and Lene (Krog) play at nationals as seniors and thinking this was the last time they were going to compete for the team. I remember seeing everyone cry at the end. That's going to be me this year and I never thought it would be me. Somehow I made it.
Question: What is your major and what do you plan on doing after you stop playing competitive golf?
Nielson: Sociology. After I play I really want to coach. Coach (Lewellen) has made it look like it is so much fun. She seems to have fun so I want to pursue coaching.
Question: You won't be back in Charlottesville in time to take part in Final Exercises due to the NCAA schedule. How do you feel about that?
Nielson: Coach had to tell me because they changed the schedule from where we usually finish on a Friday and this year we finish on a Saturday. I think she was scared what I might do because I had lots of family coming in. Frankly, I would rather win a national championship. Walking the Lawn would be cool, but I can do that Monday when they have a special ceremony for us. I'm excited about that.
Question: What is your favorite golf memory from UVa?
Nielson: When we won at LSU. That was really cool. I tied for first and that helped the team win. Afterwards, we got stuck in Baton Rouge for like three days. We have lots of "Remember Whens." We played in a hurricane at Caves Valley during the Fall Preview one year. I feel like my memories are here are going to be travel issues. We always seem to have troubles getting to where we want to be.
After Seattle we had to drive from Charlotte because our flight was cancelled. Then in Seattle we had our car towed. I saw it and yelled out and everyone started running after it. I thought coach was going to get run over in the middle of downtown Seattle. It was pretty funny.
Question: What is your favorite non-golf memory about UVa?
Nielson: The people I've met. The people here are absolutely phenomenal. I couldn't ask for better friends. I couldn't ask for better teammates. I couldn't ask for better teachers. I can say that I've never had a bad professor. I think that's pretty good to say about a university. The friends I have made here will be my life long friends. They will be my bridesmaids in my wedding. That's what I saw when I came here. It was the people and the camaraderie. Everybody seems to be that way. You saw it when Yeardley (Love) passed away. Everyone came together. We are one here at UVa and I think it is so cool. I get goose bumps talking about it. It is a special place.
Question: What's your best UVa sports memory?
Nielson: I think the baseball team and what they have accomplished here. My first year they weren't that good and then two years ago they won the ACC championship and went to Omaha. That was really cool. I have a lot of girlfriends on the rowing team and seeing them win the NCAA championship last year was exciting. It is cool to see your friends be successful and to do well and win like you want to win.
Question: What is the one thing you would have like to do at UVa if you had more time?
Nielson: It would probably have been being able to hang out on a beautiful afternoon. Sitting outside at The Virginian with friends or going wine tasting. Beach Week is a huge one. Everyone has been asking me if I am going to Beach Week. People just don't understand the commitment we make playing golf. I got to go to Foxfields every year, so that was fun.
Question: 30 Years from now you'll look back and say ...?
Nielson: What a good time I had here. It's pretty cool here.