PRESIDENT NATIONAL GOLF COACHES ASSOCIATION
A Decade of Success
Over the last decade, the Lady Volunteer golf program has been a constant force in the Southeastern Conference and on the national level under the guidance of Judi Pavon, the current National Golf Coaches Association President. Since Pavon became head coach in 2000, the Big Orange has captured 13 tournament titles, competed at seven NCAA Championships and been a constant presence in top 25 rankings.
Individually, Lady Vols have captured 14 All-America awards, 28 All-SEC nods and 21 NGCA Academic All-America citations under the tutelage of Pavon. In the "decade of success" with Pavon, the Orange and White have continued UT's streak of finishing above .500 in head-to-head matchups and competing at the NCAA Regional Championships every season.
A Helena, Montana native, Pavon took charge of the Lady Vol golf program after serving as the interim head coach for the final two events of the 1999-2000 season and as an assistant coach on The Hill for three seasons (1997-2000). Before coming to Rocky Top, Pavon had a standout golf career, playing professionally from 1990-1994 and earning All-America honors as a collegian at Alabama. She and her husband, Luis, a former UA golfer, live in Knoxville with their two daughters, Alexa and Maya.
Another Impressive Season
The 2009-10 season was one of Pavon's most successful campaigns with the Orange and White, as UT won back-to-back tournaments, the Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Championships and the Alamo Invitational, in October to wrap up the fall. Sophomore star Nathalie Mansson nabbed medalist honors at both tournaments, as well, while the Mercedes-Benz win was by a tournament-record 19 strokes.
UT vaulted to as high as No. 6 in the country in the rankings after the fall portion of the schedule. In the spring, the Lady Vols nearly won their fourth NCAA Regional crown. UT placed second at the NCAA East Regional to vault the squad to its unprecedented sixth NCAA Championship in seven years, where it placed 19th. At the regional, UT broke its record for low score through 36 holes, tallying a two-day mark of 570 to break the 574 tally set at the Mercedes-Benz event earlier in the season.
Along the way, freshman Erica Popson cemented herself as a force to be reckoned with on the national scene, recording a stroke average of 71.10 over the final three tournaments of the season. She nearly won the SEC Championship, tying for first, before nabbing runner-up accolades in a playoff, and set the Tennessee record for 54-hole total (208) in the process. She also led three Lady Vols in the top 10 at the regional competition, tying for fourth, with senior Diana Cantú tying for seventh and Mansson tying for ninth.
Mansson had one of the finest individual seasons in Lady Vol history, as she set new single-season marks for stroke average (73.06) and rounds of par of better (16) in addition to her two tournament victories and eight top 10 placements. She was named to the All-SEC First Team, while Cantú captured second team all-conference honors and Popson was tabbed to the SEC's All-Freshman squad. The trio became the 26th, 27th and 28th All-SEC honorees under Pavon. Mansson also was named a Second Team All-American by the NGCA and Golfweek.
Cantú and fellow senior Ginny Brown both wrapped up their playing careers. Cantú had the best season of her four-year stretch at Rocky Top in 2009-10 and completes her career among UT's top 10 in career stroke average and rounds played. Brown became one of Pavon's and the Lady Vols' greatest success stories, shaving nearly five strokes off her season average between the 2007-08 and 2008-09 campaigns and finishing with a 78.10 career average. For the season, UT won two tournaments - increasing Pavon's UT all-time best record to 13 titles - while producing 135 head-to-head wins, the second most in a season in Big Orange history.
Academically, Pavon's charges continued to find just as much success in the classroom. Junior Lauren Spurlock and freshman Sara Monberg were named to the NGCA All-Scholar (Academic All-America) Team and the pair was joined on the SEC Spring Honor Roll by teammates Cantú, Mansson, Popson, Brown and Rebecca Watson.
Lady Vols in the Pros, Coaching Ranks
Three of Pavon's former star pupils at UT are currently competing on the Duramed FUTURES Tour. Angela Oh, who played for UT from 2006-08, won the 2010 season-opener on the LPGA feeder circuit's schedule, the Florida's Natural Charity Classic in March and will likely earn her LPGA card after capturing five top-10 finishes to vault her among the tour's top-10 money winners over the past season.
Current volunteer assistant Jessica Shepley and recent UT graduate Nichole Smith are also in the midst of wrapping up successful 2009-10 professional campaigns. Smith snagged two top-10 placements in her inaugural FUTURES season, while Shepley has banked nearly $100,000 in six years on the tour. She also has status on the LPGA Tour and recently competed at the CN Canadian Women's Open. Shepley played for the Big Orange and Pavon from 2001-05, while Smith competed from 2005-09. Both earned All-SEC and All-America honors during their careers.
Additionally, former Tennessee star Young-A Yang competes on the LPGA Tour. Yang, who is Tennessee's only four-time All-American, played in five tournaments in 2010 and has career earnings of nearly $700,000. Yang has played in over 100 LPGA events and nabbed six top-10 performances since joining the tour in 2003. Her career-best finish of second-place came at the 2004 Giant Eagle Classic. Since Pavon became head coach of the Orange and White in 2000, nine Lady Vols have competed in the pro ranks.
Playing for Pavon also appears to be a great prep for a career in coaching after an athlete's competitive days wrap up. Carrie Parnaby (née Cole), who played at UT from 1998-02 and then was an assistant coach at Rocky Top, was named the head women's golf coach at UTSA in 2008. This past summer, a pair of recent Tennessee grads nabbed coaching positions in the SEC. Golda Johansson Borst was named the head women's golf coach at the University of Kentucky, while Vanderbilt selected Holly Clark (née Cantwell), to be its assistant coach. Borst played at Tennessee from 2002-06 before spending three years as an assistant coach at LSU. Clark played for Tennessee from 2003-07 and was previously the head coach at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn.
She Was a Star Student-Athlete Too
Tennessee decade of success under Pavon should come as no surprise, as not only does she have an extensive coaching background, but she was also a star golfer on the high school, collegiate and professional levels.
Pavon (formerly Schneider) graduated magna cum laude from the University of Alabama in 1989. At The Capstone, she was an NGCA All-American as a senior and a three-time NGCA Academic All-American. The SEC also tabbed Pavon as a first-team all-conference selection in 1989. She claimed two individual titles and qualified as an individual for the NCAA Championships in 1989. Moreover, she was honored with the prestigious Paul "Bear" Bryant Student-Athlete of the Year award. As a team, the Crimson Tide finished ninth at the 1987 NCAA Championships, Alabama's first appearance ever. She led the club in stroke average her junior and senior seasons.
After her collegiate career wrapped up, Pavon continued her success in the professional ranks, where she competed in five LPGA major championships - the 1992 and 1997 LPGA Championships, 1991 and 1993 U.S. Open and the 1992 duMaurier Championship. She also captured the LPGA Southeast Section Championship in 1997. Overall, she was a member of the LPGA Tour from 1991-92 and competed on the FUTURES Tour in 1990 and 1993-94.
Her career began in Montana, as she became a prep star and captured the 1984 and 1985 Montana State High School titles. Additionally, she was crowned the state's Amateur Champion in 1986 and 1989 and was inducted into the Montana State Women's Golf Hall of Fame in 1996.
Success from the Start
Pavon has had success from the minute she took over the Lady Vol program as the interim head coach for the final two tournaments of the 1999-00 season. After serving as an assistant since 1997, she took her first team to the NCAA Championships, where it finished fifth - still the best national tournament finish in Orange and White history.
A year later, Pavon was named the Southeast Section Coach of the Year by the LPGA and although the Lady Vols didn't make a return trip to the NCAA Championships, Yang placed fifth as individual at the national event and captured First Team All-America honors.
In Pavon's second full year as head coach, 2001-02, the Lady Vols finished the season ranked No. 8 for the second straight year. Yang capped her career as the first four-time All-American in program history.
In 2002-03, Tennessee won three tournament titles and freshman Violeta Retamoza took the college scene by storm, gaining Second Team All-America accolades and joining Shepley on the All-SEC First Team.
In a little over three seasons, Pavon already had led UT to a new-coaching record of six event titles, coached a four-time All-American and led the Lady Vols to their highest placement ever in the national tournament.
Four in a Row
Despite the success, the Lady Vols failed to qualify as a team to the NCAA Championship in the three years after Pavon took over. However, that quickly changed, as UT returned to the national event each of the next four seasons. Heading into this season, Tennessee has cemented itself as a perennial national power, competing at NCAAs in six of the last seven seasons including two regional titles. Pavon guided the Lady Vols back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2000 campaign in 2003-04, where they finished 11th. Individual achievements continued as well, with Shepley earning honorable mention All-America laurels and Retamoza tying for first at the SEC Championship.
During the 2004-05 season, Tennessee tied for sixth place at the NCAA Championships, qualifying to the tournament by winning the NCAA West Regional. Retamoza had one of the best seasons in Big Orange history by capturing SEC Player of the Year and First Team All-SEC honors.
Pavon snagged SEC Coach of the Year accolades after leading the Lady Vols to three event titles in 2005-06. The season included what is still the finest Lady Vol team performance ever at a tournament, as Lady Vols placed 1-2-3-4 at the Donnis Thompson, firing school record 855. Sophomore Marci Turner rode a final round 64 to medalist honors at the Honolulu, Hawaii competition. The Big Orange took first at the NCAA East Regional and 13th at the NCAA Championships.
Turner captured her second All-America award in 2006-07, while sophomore Nicole Smith nabbed her first A-A honor, as the Lady Vols capped the season with a 17th-place finish at their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship. Turner also became the second Lady Vol to earn the prestigious Edith Cummings Munson Award given to the All-American with the highest grade point average in the country.
Wrapping Up an Impressive Decade
Tennessee bounced back from missing the 2008 NCAA Championship by advancing to the next two national tournaments. The 2008-09 campaign was one of Pavon's finest as a coach, as she guided the team a No. 72 ranking in the fall to final rating of No. 20 and an NCAA Championships berth. After placing in the top-10 only once in four fall tournaments, the Lady Vols reeled off six consecutive top-eight placements en route to the national championships.
Mansson burst on to the collegiate scene that season by capturing All-East Region, All-SEC Second Team and SEC All-Freshman Team honors, while leading the Lady Vols with a UT freshman record average of 73.79. It was a performance the Stockholm, Sweden, native improved on as she and the Lady Vols advanced to NCAA Championships a second straight year in 2009-10.
|A DECADE OF EXCELLENCE|
|Current President of the NGCA|
|UT Coaching Record for Head-to-Head Wins (1,777)|
|UT Coaching Record for Tournament Team Titles (13)|
|2006 SEC Coach of the Year|
|14 All-America Awards|
|28 All-SEC Awards|
|21 Academic All-America Awards|