Rocky Mountain College golfer, Eryn Ellis, was ranked No. 7 in the country for the 2017 fall season in National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division I.
Ellis is a junior majoring in communication studies and was born in Rock Springs, Wyoming. After graduating from Casper’s Natrona County High School, Ellis was recruited by RMC and started her college golf career.
“Your result is whatever you put into your practice,” said Ellis. “If I did my best I know I could inspire other people to do their best too.”
Rocky Mountain College women’s golf team won the Coastal Collegiate Classic this season.The men’s and women’s teams had impressive performances overall and individually, Ellis was a key player for the women’s side. RMC men’s golf team got second place at the Coastal Collegiate Classic in Oregon. This season, Ellis was in contention to win every tournament she played in, and she placed in the Top 3 spots in every tournament except one.
The women won the Frontier Conference regular season title and their overall performance keeps improving year after year. According to Ellis, even though golf is an individual sport, a good overall performance from the entire team is needed to win tournaments.
“It wasn’t in my mind to be on the top 10 list before the season,” Ellis said. “What was going through my mind the past two seasons is doing the best I can do for our team and try to help us get to nationals. That’s my main goal.”
Golf is a sport which requires not just physical skills and precise movements, but mental strength and concentration.
“I put so much work into my practice this summer.” said Ellis. “I have been doing a lot more mental practice.”
Ellis said her individual goals and the team goals meshed together and that had a positive effect on both her and the team. Ellis added that golf is the most mentally demanding sport, not only because of the concentration and confidence needed, but because one individual’s performance is not enough to make a quality team.
“You can have the best skill set in the world, but if you don’t have mental strength, or a mental thought process, you are not going to do well,” said Ellis.
In golf, teams aren’t necessary for drills, and practice becomes dependent on how much effort the athlete wants to put into the sport. However, it can be stressful to think that you are your own rival. Ellis commented that she did a lot more off season practice over the summer to prepare herself mentally for the year.
“If I start thinking about my competitors and how they are doing, and what they are doing, I’m not focusing on myself,” said Ellis. “ I’m taking myself out of the present moment and thinking about what I need to do, or what I have done to get me to where I am in that tournament. If I make a mistake on the previous whole I’m thinking in the past, and what I need to do in the future, I’m not thinking about the present moment.”
“I think everyone should focus on their own abilities and how they can be the best they can be in that current moment,” Ellis said. “Because what other people do, you can’t control. You can only control what you do in the present moment.”
The mental training that Ellis practiced came from sports psychology and online resources, which kept her motivated and visualizing a goal throughout the season.
“I’ve always practiced mental game, but not to the extent that I did this year,” Ellis said. “Visualization was big for me in my practice. A lot of pretending, ‘Oh my god this put is to win a tournament,’ and creating pressure that isn’t there so I can act on it when I need to.”
Ellis practiced being under pressure in every shot to be able to deal with stressful situations. Visualizing the crucial moments in her mind prepared Ellis for the important plays when they actually occurred. She added that the RMC golf program has improved since she has been a student athlete.
“Aaron Pohle is such a good coach,” Ellis said. “He has brought in so many other people that can help us, like we got a sports psychologist to help us this year. We have an ex Division 1 coach helping us this year. We have Kyla Clancy still helping us. We also have Hunter Anderson, who was team captain last year.”
The experience of individuals that have played the sport at a collegiate level is extremely helpful to prepare students athletes for those crucial moments.
“It is nice to have that friendly face that can help calm you down because they know the situation.” Ellis said. “They just got out of that situation so having them as a coach where you can learn from their mistakes, and how they have reacted and the outcome of that while you are playing is really helpful.”
Ellis added that she doesn’t want to change her preparation program because it has been working.
“I ultimately want to change the golf program for the better,” Ellis said. “ If me being my best works out and the stars align then that means I give the Rocky program, Aaron, everyone that helps out, a good example of what Rocky golf does and will do for future golfers.”