Seymour native’s team shelved


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Stephanie (Coop) Priesmeyer says she circled the day of March 16 in red on her desk calendar and placed a sad face in the middle of the date.

The former Seymour sports star’s reason for circling that day was the interruption to her 20 season as head women’s golf coach at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.

The COVID-19 put a stop to sporting events across the nation, eliminating the rest of her spring season.

“That was the last day we were allowed to meet with our team and have any face-to-face contact with them,” Priesmeyer said. “Right now we are still under those guidelines until May 31 and then we will evaluate where everything stands on that date.”

Priesmeyer graduated from Seymour High in 1990 where she was an all-state golfer, helping the Owls reach the state finals three straight years. They finished runner-up in 1987 and 88 and won the state in 1989.

She also played basketball all four years, and was a member of the 1986-87 girls team that competed in the state finals.

The Missouri women golfers saw the spring season end suddenly because of coronavirus. Priesmeyer said the squad ordinarily plays college golf year-round. “We may have four or five events in the fall and then our championship season is in April and May. All of our events count toward rankings.”

Coop said this spring the Tigers traveled to Arizona in January to practice, and then competed in events in Panama City Beach, Florida., and Peoria Arizona.

“We were actually practicing on our home course when we received the notice from our administration that we needed to end all practices, competitions, in-person meetings due to COVID-19,” Priesmeyer said. “We were preparing to go back to Arizona to a tournament we co-host with Kansas State University. We had been a part of that event (Mountain View collegiate) for many years.”

The halted suddenly.

“I think initially as a coaching staff we were just blindsided and all had feelings of shock,” Coop said. “There were so many unknowns and it was certainly difficult to relay information to our players because everything was happening so quickly and changing every day and for that matter every hour.”

There was on senior on the roster, Cherise Otter, from Bloomington South in Indiana.

Priesmeyer felt sorry for her.

“It is really tough on all the seniors that did not get to graduate this May,” she said. “We were not allowed to have our year-of-the-end celebration, and obviously we didn’t get to compete in our last three events of the season.”

Otter will not be returning to the team in the fall, choosing to move on to graduate school.

“You want your student-athletes to have an amazing college experience,” Coop said. “They are able to travel the country and play golf at some tremendous golf courses with their friends and teammates and create those wonderful memories.

“I feel bad for Cherise in that she did not have the opportunity to finish out her senior year the way we would have expected it to be this spring.”

Cotter will be a four-time All Scholar Award winner with the WGCA. To earn the award a student must maintain a 3.6 cumulative GPA throughout her college career and compete in at least 50 percent of events.

“That is very hard to achieve as a traveling student athlete,” Priesmeyer said, “so I am very proud of her on the golf course and in the classroom in what she was able to achieve while attending Mizzou.”

Coop said there are two golfers who live in Columbia, and there are two players from Illinois and one form Minnesota.

“They recently opened up golf courses in Illinois and Minnesota (after being closed from the virus),” she said, “so that is good that those players can now practice and play. We have been open in Columbia since all this happened.”

Priesmeyer said two members of the team decided to stay in Columbia over the summer.

“One is an international student and she was afraid she may not get back into the country this fall if things don’t let up,” Coop said, “and the other athlete is from Georgia and she felt safer here because our numbers (COVID-19) are so low compared to where she is from. They are both able to continue to train and practice on their own while taking online classes.”

The Tigers have won 16 tournaments under Coop’s coaching, and she has led Mizzou to NCAA Regional competition eight times, being named the Central Region Coach of the Year in 2005. The Tigers placed third in the regional that year to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the first time in school history.

Under Coop’s coaching, the Tigers have broken 54- and 18-hole school records numerous times, and Mizzou’s 25 best scores came under her coaching. Those school marks are 269 for 18 holes and 825 for 54 holes. The Tigers set both records in the Johnie Imes Tournament in 2015. Missouri has won that tournament, played on its home course, six years in a row.

Coop has had members of her team earn academic all-conference honors 43 times, and make the National Golf Coaches Association all-scholar team 28 times.

“Currently we are doing a lot of Zoom meetings with recruits, staff, current team members and future team members,” Preismeyer said. “There is not a lot we can do with our team during this time.”

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