Thomson helps Red Storm win Big East crown

Having her name forever encapsulated in a program’s history brings modest laughter from Christin Thomson.
The Fort Frances native helped lead the St. John’s University Red Storm women’s golf team to its first Big East title at the Warren Golf Course in South Bend, Ind. (home of host Notre Dame) on Saturday.
Individually, Thomson placed third overall with a round of 78.
“The win was huge. I’m only starting to realize now how big it was,” said Thomson, 21. “This is the first time a women’s program at St. John’s has won since 1994 when the soccer team did it [beating Boston College for the Big East title].”
The five-woman team’s total score on the par-72, 5,977-yard course was 329—seven strokes better than Georgetown (336), nine better than Notre Dame (338), and 24 above Boston College (353).
This is only the third year the Red Storm has had a women’s golf program and Thomson—now a junior—has been with it since the beginning. All the hard work, sacrifices, and frustration came into fruition Saturday, albeit against a backdrop of winter-like conditions.
The team had packed their bags from New York expecting bad weather and that’s exactly what they got—and then some.
“When we got there, the weather just turned really bad,” Thomson recalled.
Sleet and almost 50 km/h winds were in store for the Big East championships, which also saw the men’s division take part (the Red Storm finished last in the six-team field).
As such, adjustments had to be made to the format.
A practice round went ahead as scheduled Friday but instead of 36 holes being played on Saturday and the final 18 on Sunday, only 18 holes could be played Saturday.
And when the teams awoke Sunday morning, they saw a blanket of snow outside of their hotel rooms.
“Our coach [Ambry Bishop] basically told us that it’s going to be crappy and pack everything you can to stay as warm as you can,” said Thomson.
“And basically, it was probably the worst weather conditions I’ve ever played in,” she added, which is saying a lot from someone who hails from Northwestern Ontario.
But those dreadful conditions helped put four of the five Red Storm golfers in the top 10 because they are used to such conditions from their northeastern U.S. location, where they are “hitting from matts” while other schools are out on a course.
“The other teams kind of defeated themselves before they got onto the golf course,” said Thomson. “We just didn’t complain at all.
“We had to play in it and we had the thinking that it [the tournament] wasn’t going to be called off,” she added. “We knew we could play in that weather because we’ve played so much in it.”
Heading into the championship, the team was as confident as Jennifer Aniston at a singles bar. They had cruised to a 24-stroke victory at the Hartford Invitational two weeks earlier after having won three tournaments before then (the Red Storm’s first-ever team title came last year).
The favourites going in, however, was two-time defending champion Notre Dame, who were ranked 46th by Golfstat of the programs across America while St. John’s was way down at 126th.
“We just missed making it [to the Big East championship in 2004] by like a shot, so we should’ve been in it last year and that just gave us something to prove for this year,” said Thomson.
“It was just a matter of time for us before we got it together.”
As it turns out, the Big East championship is the last stop for the Red Storm this school year (an article in Monday’s Daily Bulletin had indicated the team next would be heading to the East Regional tournament, but that information proved to be incorrect).
Instead, the Red Storm will not be able to qualify for the NCAA tournament until 2008, which certainly doesn’t make Thomson happy because she will have graduated by then.
“It’s definitely frustrating because you want to go further,” said Thomson, who will be staying in New York this summer for an internship with the Fenway Golf Club (a private club).
Because the Red Storm (and Big East) only have been around for a handful of years, they are going through a development phase, which will be building next year as three-four more teams join the four-team conference (last year it had five teams).
“There are ups and downs in being part of a new program, and we’ve essentially had more downs so far,” said Thomson, who is majoring in sports management, with a minor in business.
“Sometimes you wish you were part of a bigger program because I would love to go on to the NCAA tournament.”
And there were times when Thomson questioned why she was with the program.
“I had thought about transferring when there were problems [the school has had three different coaches in its three years].” But she stayed put and now is “really glad that I stayed.”
“The Big East is not at the same level as some of the other conferences, but I think it will definitely get there in the near future,” she remarked.
As for her own future, Thomson said she is “shooting to try and play on the LPGA tour” some day.