When one door closes another opens: How junior golfer Romina Gonzalez found her opportunity at UTA

Junior golfer Romina Gonzalez strikes a ball during the first round at the UT Arlington Invitational on Oct. 19, 2020, at the Texas Rangers Golf Club in Arlington. Gonzalez previously played at St. Edward's University before UTA.  

Imagine the feeling when something you love gets taken away from you. When you spend your life working to perfect your craft, and all of a sudden it’s gone. 

Junior golfer Romina Gonzalez experienced that feeling when the women’s golf team was cut from her previous school at St. Edward's University. The decision to get rid of the golf program was made when the pandemic hit full throttle and eventually led her to finding her place at UTA. 

Gonzalez was in the middle of her sophomore season when the golf program was cut. She described the feeling after hearing the decision as a “shock”.  

“It was a huge surprise,” Gonzalez said. “I had been working to get better, and finally I was seeing some great results I was getting.”

Before the pandemic changed everything, Gonzalez said she had just settled down, and she was enjoying her environment and gaining chemistry with her teammates.  

“I was super comfortable with my team,” Gonzalez said. “I was honestly very happy, very settled down, and then out of nowhere they were like ‘we’re cutting the program’, and it was a huge shock.”  

Not only did cutting the golf program mean that Gonzalez lost the game she loved playing, but it put her in a position to figure out her next move and do it quickly.  

Gonzalez had two choices: she could stay at St. Edwards and give up golf, or she could attend a university that was closer to her hometown of San Antonio and join a nearby golfing program.

She made her final decision by trusting her instincts and a friend, sophomore golfer Kinsey Ray.  

Ray has a history with Gonzalez. They both attended Reagan High School in San Antonio and have been friends since.

“Right off the bat we hit it off,” Ray said. “She’s super outgoing and energetic, and I feel like she gets along with anyone she meets.”

Gonzalez said she would see posts on Ray's social media and think of how she would fit in at UTA.  

“[Ray] would post stories and talk about her coach and her teammates,” Gonzalez said. “I was like, ‘honestly that would be a really cool place for me to be at, I see myself being there.’”

Before attending UTA, Ray considered going to St. Edwards because of her friendship with Gonzalez, but ultimately decided on the former.

“It's kind of funny because I was seriously considering St. Edwards at the time she was already a freshman there,” Ray said. “I really could have gone to St. Edwards and been in the same situation.”  

The decision Ray made to attend UTA soon proved to work for both her and Gonzalez as Ray became an x-factor in Gonzalez’s recruitment process.

Ray and junior golfer Abigail Adams helped out Gonzalez by putting in a good word to head coach Catherine Matranga.  

“We both told coach [Matranga] about her and obviously Romina reached out, sent her stats and everything,” Ray said. “They hit it off as well over phone calls and zoom calls.”

Unfortunately, phone calls and video chats were the only sources of actually getting in contact with the team. Ray said Gonzalez had to trust her that she would fit in with the team and enjoy the program.  

Ray said the fact that Gonzalez chose to come to UTA without knowing what it was like and trusting her instincts demonstrates her dedication to continuing to play the sport she loves. 

“I think it just shows how much she loves the game and how much she loves the competition,” Ray said. “It’s not always easy but I just think it shows how much of a hard worker she is.”

After hearing how hard of a worker she is from Ray and Adams, Matranga said knowing a little more about Gonzalez helped the recruiting process.  

“The first time I talked to her on the phone I was like ‘man, this kid is going to be great,’” Matranga said. “She just wanted an opportunity to come play, I mean she loves to play.” 

Even with everything Gonzalez has gone through with the game she loves being taken away, having to find out her next move quickly and choosing a school she never visited, Matranga said she brings a lot of positivity to the team.  

“She just never doesn’t have a smile on her face,” Matranga said. “We have absolutely loved having her join our program, she has been a great addition for us.”  

@JayRod003

sports-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu 

 

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