Thomson taking links by ‘Storm’

University athletic programs normally suffer growing pains in their infancy, with success only coming in later years after numerous early failures lay the groundwork for an eventually solid foundation.
But Christin Thomson and the St. John’s University Red Storm women’s golf team have no time for the waiting game.
In the first NCAA Division I tournament of the team’s inaugural season, the unranked Red Storm surprised the 17-team field at the Princeton Invitational in Princeton, N.J. on Sept. 28-29 with a fourth-place finish overall.
And at the heart of St. John’s impressive debut was Thomson, a Fort Frances native, who looked anything but the freshman she is by carding back-to-back rounds of 79 to nail down sixth place in the individual competition with a two-day total of 14-over par 158.
“The course had its tough spots and the greens were difficult, but the length wasn’t anything I wasn’t used to,” said Thomson, 19, who is majoring in sports management at the Long Island, N.Y. school.
“I felt I could have shot 75 or 76 both days, but I struggled with my putter,” she added.
Entering the event as an unknown quantity, Thomson and fellow Ontario teammates Jaclyn Sanders (Bright’s Grove) and Katie Lebel (Mooretown), along with Tracey Bolger and Jennifer Rhee, commanded the competition’s attention quickly.
The Red Storm posted a two-day combined score of 656—a more impressive total considering the team had just one practice round to get accustomed to the course.
“I played well in practice and that gave me confidence for the weekend,” said Thomson. “I was really surprised I did so well. I thought my scores would put me in the top 20, but I expected a lot of other lower scores.
“Our team’s really happy with the scores we had,” she added. “But it’s only the first tournament, and we know the courses are going to get a little tougher and the scores will be a little bit higher as we go along.”
St. John’s was the only major U.S. university to offer Thomson a scholarship and with its women’s golf program only taking five players in its first season, she knew she was walking into an ideal situation.
“Usually, there’s 10 players on teams at this level and you have to qualify just to get a chance to go play tournaments,” she explained.
“I knew with St. John’s, I’d get the opportunity to play right away.”
Thomson pointed to Red Storm coach Pam Cunningham as the gelling force behind the Big East conference’s newest entry.
“[Cunningham] played college golf herself so she knows what we’re going through,” said Thomson. “She helps us with things beside our golfing, and makes sure we’re having fun.
“She’s got a great personality and is really easy to be around.”
While she misses her family and friends here, Thomson’s hectic schedule of school and sports – mixed in with the time spent enjoying the abundant entertainment options of the New York City area – leaves little time for homesickness.
“There’s so much to do,” she marvelled. “I haven’t really felt lost at all, other than the little situation we had early on of getting back and forth from the different golf courses.
“Even if I was going to school four hours away from home, I’d still be away from family and friends,” she reasoned. “It’s like a very big area here, and I really like it.”
Thomson and her teammates next hit the links Oct. 18-19 for the Rutgers Invitational in Piscataway, N.J.