MISHAWAKA—After both playing and coaching at Bethel University, former Women’s Golf coach, Geandra Almeida, has stepped down from her head coaching position. Almeida transferred to Bethel for her Junior season in 2012 and coached at Bethel after her playing career concluded. She was named the head coach of the Women’s Golf team for the 2019-20 season, and won the NCCAA North Central Region in 2019, she was also named the 2019 NCCAA North Central Region Coach of the Year.
“She was phenomenal,” Athletic Director, Tony Natali said. “She took the program to another level. She played on that team for Coach Hess and learned a lot of things from him. Then when our structure changed, and Chris and me stopped coaching, having her step into the role was perfect because she had been a part of the program. By already being in the program she was able to relate with the ladies on the team and did a great job recruiting.”
The replacement for Almeida is Christopher Hess. Hess has held a number of positions within the golf programs during his time at Bethel including the Men’s Golf head coach from 1994-1999 and Women’s Golf head coach from 2011-2019. He was also the Assistant Athletic Director from 2004-2019. Currently, he is the Associate Athletic Director and Director of Golf.
“It wasn’t that much of a process to return to the position,” Director of Golf, and now Women’s Golf head coach, Christopher Hess said. “I had already been coaching golf here since 1994, and I had retired two years ago from coaching, but I was still the Director of Golf. So, I was already close to the program in that aspect. The one thing that I missed from being a head coach was being more involved with the players. Being able to build relationships was one of the biggest things for me.”
In his first tournament as the head coach of the Women’s Golf team, they won the NCCAA North Central Regional Championship. They have won the tournament each of the last seven years. This tournament automatically qualifies the team for the NCCAA National Championships in Palm Coast, Fl. The Pilots won the tournament by eighteen strokes over Aurora. They also placed three golfers in the top five individual performers. Maria Pardo Victori placed second in the tournament with 154 total strokes. Jessica Shurety placed third with 156 total strokes, and Taeyon Kwon tied for fourth with 157 total strokes.
“Right before this tournament, we really talked about working toward the national championship,” Hess said. “The main thing for us is that we want to continue to get better every day, so that we are peaking at the national championships in October. The ultimate goal is to win a national title. We never have as a team, but we have a very strong tradition of a lot of winning and playing at the national championships, so we really want to win one.”
The Women’s Golf team will compete next in the Battle of Blackthorn on Sep. 24 and 25. For more information on the Women’s Golf team visit https://www.bupilots.com/sport/16-womens-golf.