Alabama claims the 2012 Women's Golf National Championship.
Alabama head coach Mic Potter added national champion to his resume in 2012 and begins his 11th season with the Crimson Tide and 32nd overall with a roster full of talent for the 2015-16 season.
Potter already had established a Hall-of-Fame legacy before he arrived in Tuscaloosa - thanks to his impressive work building Furman into a national power - but his work over the past decade at Alabama has been historic, culminating with the school's first national championship in 2012. Three seasons later, Potter helped guide Emma Talley to the individual NCAA Championship to cap off the 2014-15 season, becoming the first NCAA medalist in the program’s history.
Potter, who came to the Capstone after 22 years at Furman, led the Tide to its second NCAA Championship appearance in program history in his first year at Alabama and repeated the feat in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. His 2012 national championship and 10 straight NCAA Championships berths only reaffirmed his status as one of the most prominent coaches in women's collegiate golf. His reclamation project in Tuscaloosa is one of the most impressive turnarounds in collegiate golf history.
With the recent success, the honors continue to pile up for Potter, who helped the Crimson Tide develop into a national power in the ultra-competitive SEC. The veteran coach has won 13 Conference Coach of the Year awards, including five in the SEC.
Throughout his career, Potter has developed a reputation for being an excellent teacher of the game as well as a builder of elite college programs. His student-athletes consistently have performed at a high level both in the classroom and on the course, with several carrying that level of excellence on into the professional ranks. Potter's former players who have gone on to careers in the LPGA include the legendary Dottie Pepper (who starred for his Furman teams) and several recent Alabama players, namely Kathleen Ekey, Jenny Suh, Brooke Pancake and Jennifer Kirby.
The 2014-15 season marked the 10th consecutive NCAA berth for the Crimson Tide. After tying for fourth place at the NCAA Raleigh Regional, Alabama finished 14th overall at the NCAA Championships. But the highlight of the week was undoubtedly Talley’s triumph to claim the individual crown, finishing 3-under for the tournament to bring home the NCAA title. She was named a First Team All-American by both the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) and Golfweek. Talley also earned the Honda Award for women’s golf, the second player in program history to do so (Pancake, 2012) along with being named Second Team All-SEC. Freshman Lakareber Abe was selected to the SEC All-Freshman Team as well.
Stephanie Meadow led the 2013-14 team that finished ninth at the NCAA Championships and won The Landfall Tradition. Meadow became the school's all-time leading scorer and the program's first four-time first team All-American. She was also named the SEC Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second time. She was named the NCAA Elite 89 winner. Emma Talley garnered honorable mention All-America honors and helped lead the United States to victory at the Curtis Cup in June. Meadow played for the Great Britain and Ireland team.
The Crimson Tide's 2012-13 season was another for the record books as the program captured its second SEC championship and second NCAA East Regional title. Alabama won a school-record seven events, including six of eight on the spring schedule. Potter was named the SEC Coach of the Year and the SkyCaddie WGCA East Region Coach of the Year.
The 2012-13 team saw three players garner All-America honors, with Meadow a consensus first-team selection. Talley was a second-team pick by the NGCA and Jennifer Kirby earned honorable mention accolades. Meadow also became the first Alabama player to earn SEC Player of the Year honors and the third in conference history to also be named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the same season. Talley became the third Tide golfer to earn league Freshman of the Year honors. Hannah Collier garnered second team All-SEC recognition, along with Talley and Kirby.
The team's first win of the 2012-13 season came at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, when they tied for first with Florida. The Tide then posted wins at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic, the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, the Gator Women's Invitational and the PING/ASU Invitational along with SECs and NCAA Regional Championship.
The 2011-12 team captured its national title with a one-stroke victory over Southern California at the Vanderbilt Legends Club. The Crimson Tide spent most of that season ranked second in the polls and finished third in the SEC before tying for fourth at the NCAA East Regional leading up to NCAAs. The Tide earlier posted team victories at the SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate and the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic. Alabama finished second on three other occasions and finished outside the top four only once in 2011-12.
The 2011-12 season saw three Alabama players -- Pancake, Kirby and Meadow -- earn first team All-America honors. Pancake won the Honda Award, presented to the nation's top collegiate golfer, while also being named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the third time, the SEC Female Athlete of the Year and the CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-American of the Year. Pancake (United States) and Meadow (Great Britain and Ireland) also participated in the Curtis Cup at Nairn in Scotland to cap the historic 2011-12 season.
Alabama's 2010-11 team turned in an outstanding season as the Crimson Tide continued its climb into the elite of women's collegiate golf. The Tide spent the entire season in the top five with a school-record five wins -- NCAA Fall Preview, Tar Heel Invitational, Lady Puerto Rico Classic, Liz Murphey Classic and the NCAA East Regional - before tying for eighth at the NCAA Championship.
Two Alabama players captured medalist honors during the 2010-11 season. Meadow, then a freshman, had a school-record three wins (Lady Puerto Rico Classic, Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate and NCAA East Regional). Pancake won the Tar Heel Invitational in the fall of 2010 with an 11-under-par 206 while the team set the school record with a 28-under-par 836.
Meadow and Pancake were selected as 2011 first team All-Americans while Camilla Lennarth garnered third-team honors. The Tide also had three first team All-SEC selections (Meadow, Pancake and Lennarth) and one second-team choice (Kirby). Potter was named the 2011 SEC Coach of the Year, Pancake the Student-Athlete of the Year and Meadow was the Co-Freshman of the Year.
The 2010 SEC Championship was a springboard for the program's best NCAA Championship finish to date, a third-place showing that was only four shots off the winning score. Alabama also captured a team win at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic.
The Tide had three players finish in the top 15 individually at the 2010 NCAAs, with Kirby tied for seventh, Pancake 12th and Lennarth tied for 13th. That trio garnered All-America honors, with Lennarth earning second-team accolades while Kirby and Pancake were honorable mention selections.
Lennarth and Kirby also were first team All-SEC selections, with Kirby adding the 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year. Pancake was a second team All-SEC selection and the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She also was honored with the NCAA Elite 88 Award at the NCAA Championship as the player in the field with the highest grade-point average (4.0). Potter was named the SEC and NGCA East Region Coach of the Year.
Potter's 2009-10 team set several school records. Lennarth set the single-season scoring record with a 72.59 average and Kirby broke the freshman scoring mark with a 73.06 average, shattering the mark of 74.06 set by Pancake in 2008-09. The team set a 54-hole scoring record with a 4-under-par 848 to clinch the SEC Championship. Two Alabama NCAA scoring records also fell with the Tide posting a 5-over-par 1,157 over 72 holes at the NCAA Championship on the Dye Course at Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C., and Kirby's individual 72-hole scoring mark of 4-under 284.
Potter's 2008-09 team was a fixture in the top 10 nationally. The Tide finished the year 11th at the NCAA Championships while being ranked eighth in the final NGCA Coaches' Poll and seventh in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. The Tide captured their fifth tournament victory under Potter's guidance in 2009 at the First Market Bank Intercollegiate. Alabama also tied for second at the SEC Championships and then was runner-up at the NCAA East Regional. The Tide's fifth trip to the NCAA Finals in 2009 produced another improvement with an 11th-place finish.
Alabama had two players, Ekey and Lennarth, earn first team All-SEC honors in 2009 while Pancake was selected to the league's All-Freshman Team and awarded second team All-SEC recognition. Ekey and Lennarth garnered 2009 honorable mention All-America accolades, with Ekey, Lennarth and Pancake all earning NGCA All-East Region honors.
The 2007-08 season saw Alabama put together what was the program's most successful season to date. The Tide earned its third straight berth to the NCAAs and finished 12th at the 2008 NCAA Championship. Alabama won three tournaments in 2007-08, including the Crimson Tide Classic in record-breaking fashion. The Tide turned in a school-record 54-hole score of 861 (-3) at the Ol' Colony Golf Club. Alabama shot a final-round score of 279 (-9), also a school record. Five Tide golfers finished in the top 10 with Ekey carding a school record and women's course record score of 65 (-7) to finish with a 54-hole score of 203 (-13) and medalist honors.
The Crimson Tide also earned tournament titles at the 2007 Wildcat Fall Invitational with a score of 889 and at the 2008 Lady Puerto Rico Classic. After the Classic, Sarah Sturm was named the Golf World National Player of the Week. Ekey went on to earn All-American honors in her first season at the Capstone (2008) and broke Suh's single-season record for stroke average by posting a 73.30.
The 2006-07 campaign saw the Tide take another step forward in the development of the program under Potter's guidance. Alabama recorded five top-five finishes, including a runner-up showing at the Derby Invitational. For the second straight year the Crimson Tide earned a berth in the NCAA East Regional and finished seventh to advance to the NCAA Championship Finals for only the third time. Suh earned honorable mention All-America honors and became a two-time, first team All-SEC honoree after averaging 73.88 strokes per round.
Potter made an impact from the start. In his first season (2005-06), the legendary coach led his team to a tournament championship in his very first outing by winning Alabama's own Ann Rhoads Invitational. The 2005-06 team also recorded two top-five finishes during the spring season. After qualifying for the 2006 NCAA East Regional, the Crimson Tide put together an unlikely postseason run by defeating Virginia in a playoff to advance to the school's second-ever NCAA Championship.
Suh earned first team NGCA All-America honors in 2005-06 after shattering the school record at the time with a 73.44 stroke average. Looking back on Potter's resume, it comes as no surprise that he had his first Tide team competing for a national championship.
On June 17, 2005, The University of Alabama named the 1994 NGCA Hall of Fame honoree as its new women's golf coach. By doing so, the Crimson Tide added one of the most illustrious names in women's golf to its golf heritage.
Potter proved to be one of the collegiate golf's outstanding teachers and coaches while guiding Furman, a school competing in the Southern Conference, to national prominence in his 22-year tenure with the Paladins. He also served for 10 years as Furman's Director of Intercollegiate Golf. Potter guided Furman to 15 NCAA Championship berths and six top-10 national finishes, including an NCAA runner-up performance in 1987. He has yet to coach a season in which his team has not reached NCAA Regional competition, a streak dating back to 1993, the first season in which the regional format was established.
Potter's coaching accomplishments stand alone as an indication of the abilities of the 59-year-old mentor. In addition to these outstanding achievements, his players have recorded astounding success at both the collegiate level and in the professional ranks.
The ability to build and maintain a program certainly are among Potter's strengths when considering the amazing run of success he had throughout his career at Furman. Potter took the school, with an approximate enrollment of 2,500 students, into the upper tier of women's golf schools, leading the Paladins to unprecedented heights.
Potter was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year eight times and led his Furman teams to 36 tournament titles while his Tide teams have captured 24 tournament wins, which puts him among the leaders for all active women's golf coaches with 60 total victories. To put that remarkable statistic in perspective, the Alabama women's golf program had won only 19 team tournament titles through the beginning of the 2005-06 season, a span of 31 years.
Led by Potter, the Paladins won 10 Southern Conference Championships since the tournament's inception in 1994, including the 2004-05 championship.
Potter has coached 36 NGCA All-Americans, 36 NGCA All-Scholar Team selections, 62 all-conference selections, six players to 15 first team All-SEC awards, 14 conference players of the year and seven conference freshmen of the year.
One of the most important standards of success for any coach in major collegiate athletics is the ability to place players into the professional ranks while guiding them to a degree. Measuring Potter by these standards again places him among the very best in the nation. Since Potter's arrival at Alabama, five of his players have earned their LPGA Tour card, with Suh, Ekey, Pancake and Kirby all full-time members in 2014. Meadow finished third at the 2014 U.S. Women's Open and earned her LPGA Tour card for the 2015 season.
In the exceedingly competitive LPGA atmosphere, Potter's former players have enjoyed long, successful careers in professional golf. Through the end of the 2013 season, former Potter pupils had amassed 80-plus seasons on tour and more than $10 million in career earnings. Pepper - a former Furman standout and Paladin Hall-of-Famer - had an illustrious LPGA career, winning 17 events, including the 1992 and 1999 Kraft Nabisco Championships. She earned more than $5 million in career winnings before ending her 20-year professional career in 2003.
By any standard, Potter has proven to be one of the best women's golf coaches in the nation for more than three decades. He has built successful programs and maintained that standard by recruiting and cultivating talented players who advance to the professional ranks and obtain their degrees.
A 1977 graduate of Cortland State University, Potter majored in physical education while earning four varsity letters: three in soccer and one in golf. He is married to the former Kim O'Branski of Ithaca, N.Y. The couple has two sons, Ryan and Corey and one granddaughter Anna Elizabeth.
THE MIC POTTER FILE HIRED: June 17, 2005 EDUCATION: Cortland State, 1977 COACHING EXPERIENCE: Furman, 1982-2005; Alabama, 2005-present NCAA POSTSEASONS: Alabama: 2006-present; Furman: 1983-87; 1989-2005 NCAA Championships: Alabama (2012)
LPGA PLAYERS POTTER HAS COACHED Dottie Pepper Caroline Blaylock Ashli Price-Bunch Diana D'Alessio Joan Delk Sara Anne Timms-Mcgetrick Denise Baldwin-Kileen Jen Hanna Maggie Will Brandi Jackson Sara Johnston-Sargent Kathleen Ekey Jenny Suh Brooke Pancake Jennifer Kirby