By METTE PEDERSEN
KENNESAW, Ga. – Kennesaw State women’s golf head coach Rhyll Brinsmead came to the United States 15 years ago from Melbourne, Australia, with one goal in mind: to play college golf.
However, a mixed experience in college and the impact of two different coaches pushed Brinsmead into coaching.
After her first year at Lamar University, things were not going as well as she expected. A bad relationship with her coach made Brinsmead transfer to Texas State. This transfer was a changing point that helped her love the college experience again.
“It sort of demonstrated to me that it is not so much about where you are, but who you are with,” Brinsmead says. “A coach can really make a positive change in someone’s life.”
Brinsmead is at her ninth season with the Kennesaw State women’s golf program. Last year was a high point in the program’s history as it won a wire-to-wire 30-stroke victory at the 2015 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. This led the Owls to second appearance at NCAA Regionals in San Antonio, Texas, where the team finished 14th.
However, the results on the golf course aren’t the only thing that matters to Brinsmead. Last year, she said goodbye to four seniors.
“I mean our conference championships are always fantastic,” Brinsmead says. “Last year was huge for us. But along the way, I really enjoyed the development of the team last year. To have conversations with the seniors about what is next for them was really fun. That was really a highlight because in the nine years, I haven’t had a lot of seniors.”
This year the team has welcomed three new freshmen, one each from Belgium, France and Thailand. The change in players has created a new dynamic on the team, and Brinsmead happily remembers how it is to have a young team.
“It’s going back to basics,” Brinsmead said. “I really had to revert back to remember what it is like to coach freshmen. I had to do things this year I hadn’t had to do for three years. So, for me it has been a lot of remembering what it is like to have a young team.”
Along with three freshmen, Brinsmead also has a new assistant coach, Ket Preamchuen. However, Preamchuen is not a new face to Brinsmead; she was one of the program’s top players. She played for the Owls from 2009 to 2013, and was named first-team All-Atlantic Sun Conference three times. She was a National Golf Coaches Association All-American scholar honoree, and led the team in stroke average.
Preamchuen played a few seasons on the Symetra Tour, the developing tour under the LPGA Tour. The new role as assistant coach for Preamchuen has offered her a change of perspective on what goes into coaching, and Preamchuen says Brinsmead has helped her through this transition.
Kennesaw State women’s golf head coach Rhyll Brinsmead sits at her desk in her office. (Photo by Mette Pedersen)
“It has been an eye-opening experience because I always have had a player’s mindset,” Preamchuen says. “Whenever we are on the course we talk about it. She always gives me a guide, like ‘Ket, if you come down to this situation, you have to do this. You are not a player, you have to do this. Your position right now is not the same as them. You have to be their coach, not their friend.’”
Brinsmead said she believes in getting the most out of every day. It is important for her to get to know her players on an individual basis. She loves to find out what motivates them, what makes them angry, and what pushes them to get better.
“I feel she genuinely wants the best for us,” said Dulcie Sverdloff, a junior on the women’s golf team. “She is always asking how we are, asking if everything is OK, and making sure that everything is OK. She is very approachable.”
Another important aspect for Brinsmead is to teach her players about life. Therefore, she makes sure that everybody gets treated fairly. However, she says they have to learn that when the players get into the real world, there is going to be high-pressure expectations and standards.
“I think when you get the best out of people is when you have really done your job,” Brinsmead said. “My philosophy in coaching is to train young adults to go out into the real world. Whether it is golf, journalism or statistics whatever the career is, I want them to be ready for that.”
Brinsmead has a long-term plan for the program. Her goal is to go to nationals. Only the best 24 teams in the nation go each year. The best attempt in the program’s history was last year when it finished midrange at regionals.
“I have to up my recruiting,” Brinsmead says. “To up my recruiting we have to up results. To up results we have to play better. So it all kind of ties in together, but that’s the cool thing about coaching. You can be as good as you want to be with the right amount of work because I can sit back here and be just fine, but if I want us to get better, it starts with me. I set the standards and the expectations for the team.”
Coaching is not just a job or career for Brinsmead; it’s a lifestyle and she has no intentions of changing her career or lifestyle anytime soon.
“I eat, sleep and breathe for this team,” Brinsmead said. “The day that I wake up and I’m dreading about being around young people is the day that I know I’m done coaching, but right now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”