Former CNMI junior golfer Leina Kim was featured not once, but twice in the Colorado State University-Pueblo's official athletics site for her outstanding debut season for the ThunderWolves.
In the gothunderwolves.com's Sept. 13 edition, Kim starred in the golf section of the site for getting the RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) Women's Golfer of the Week award and then on Sept. 21, Weston Allenback's story on the Saipan golfer titled “Pack's Kim takes long road to Pueblo” was one of the headlines in the entire CSU-Pueblo's athletics site.
The ThunderWolves rookie set a CSU-Pueblo record in a single round score after carding a 1-over par 73 at the West Texas A&M Stampede in her first collegiate tournament on Sept. 10 at the Tascosa Golf Club, in Amarillo, Texas. Kim went on to place 12th in the tournament, tying teammate Michaela Breit after posting a 12-over-par 156, just three strokes off the best two-round score in CSU-Pueblo's history. The ThunderWolves ended up at No. 6 out of the 14 schools competing in RMAC.
With her impressive debut for the NCAA Division II-school, Kim, who had to redshirt with CSU-Pueblo in the 2011-2012 season, earned the RMAC Women's Golfer of the Week plum, making her only the second ThunderWolf golfer in the school history to win the prestigious award. Domi DiNallo was the first to have that feat last spring.
The Marianas Baptist Academy graduate's second tournament was the Grizzly Invitational at the Cattails Golf Course, in Alamosa, Colorado, on Sept. 16 and 17 and she helped the ThunderWolves gained back-to-back RMAC wins after shooting 79s on both rounds (38 and 41 in the first and 40 and 39 in the second). Kim's team had a total of 617 in the two-day tournament for an 11-stroke win over Western New Mexico. CSU-Pueblo won the same event last season.
After Kim's two remarkable showings for the ThunderWolves, Allenback disclosed how CSU-Pueblo and its coach, Greg Dillon, landed a good catch in the former CNMI junior golfer.
Allenback in his story said Dillon had to go outside the box and “outside” the country to find his prized rookie.
“I was living in Virginia with my sister and Coach Dillon mercilessly found me,” Kim was quoted as saying in the CSU-Pueblo athletics site. “He knew a lady named Jane, who used to teach on Saipan. She made some phone calls and managed to reach a family friend on Saipan. “Then he called my parents when I was in Virginia then finally he called me. So he went through like four people to reach me. We talked for about a year and he got me so interested, I was ready.”
When asked about her early accomplishment, Kim in the same story said she was surprised to find out she broke a record and she is aiming for a much bigger achievement this season.
“I wanted to get what my teammate Michaela Breit got two years ago, which was the Freshman of the Year award for the RMAC. That is my goal for this year,” said Kim, who credited her father, Young Kim, for introducing her to the sport and helping improve her game.
Leina's mother, Shirley, in a telephone interview with Saipan Tribune said they were not expecting their daughter to excel at this early, so the Kim family is very proud of her achievement.
“Getting a scholarship and playing golf at the same time are already great blessings for Leina. Then this award came and she dedicated it to her father. We hope she will continue to play well to help her school win many tournaments,” Shirley Kim said.
Meanwhile, Leina and company's next event on the RMAC tournament circuit is scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25 (Sept. 25-26 on Saipan) at the Fox Hollow Golf Course, in Denver, Colorado.