By Ashley Melfi, Staff Writer
With a number one ranking and a killer drive to boot, sophomore Jenna Masnyk has thrived in her first two years of collegiate ECAC/D-1golf at Hofstra University. Few players can dominate early and continue that momentum over time, but Masnyk has consistently been a powerhouse for Hofstra. It's hard to imagine that she almost considered not playing college golf at all.
Most six-year-old girls spend their time with dolls or playing dress up, but Masnyk followed her own path. Influenced by her family and wanting to be just like her sister, Masnyk started to golf at the novice level but quickly learned she was a natural, "The junior program I was in, was only six holes a round but I won my first tournament, the Rhode Island Women's Junior Golf Tournament, and loved being able to win something over people," says the now, 19 year old.
Never shy about admitting she is competitive, Masnyk flourishes during a contest. The golfer's high school coach, Nick Maresca, can attest to her aggressive nature, "Jenna's competitive fire caused us to butt heads occasionally, but that just shows her strong determinationto succeed."
During Masnyk's freshman and sophomore years in high school, her life revolved around golf, but not necessarily because she wanted it to. "It seemed like my Dad was so excited that I was good, he got so into it. I had to go every single Saturday to lessons and it seemed like I was only doing for him," said Masnyk. With pressure coming from her team and her family, Masnyk began to harbor resentment for the sport she had become so skillful in.
After breaking from golf for a summer's worth of time, however, Masnyk had an itch to get back in the game. "During my junior year, I realized I missed it so much and that taking the time for myself made me realize I wanted it back and practiced all the time" says Masnyk.
Maresca noticed this same hunger in Masnyk. "I really wanted her to focus on her game and to my delight I started to see her practicing a lot more even with her busy schedule. Jenna would spend one to two hours on the range/putting green before going to work."
Yet, for all the hard work Masnyk put into her game, when it came time to decide to continue to play at the collegiate level, she was hesitant.
"Golf has always been something I got an honest enjoyment from and I was worried adding collegiate pressure to the thing I love would change my view and love for it." It took finishing third at the State Championship her senior year to realize she could not just stop playing at a competitive level.
Finally, when including golf as a driving factor in her college search, Masnyk took it upon herself to let herself be known to coaches. Never intending to play Division 1 golf, Masnyk visited Hofstra as a detour from visiting St. John's University. "I just put a video of myself playing into coach's office, without her even there," says Masynk.
Then, to her surprise, head coach Maren Crowley took notice. Crowley sought out the golfer and made her realize D-1 was not out of the question.
To this day, Crowley is satisfied with her player,"Jenna has not only met my expectations as my recruit, but has far exceeded them."
As a golfer, Masnyk's assets include being long and consistent off the tee and excellent at putting when needing to recover from bad shots. Masnyk maintains several successes off the course as well. The broadcast journalism major received a 4.0 last semester and was granted a Resident Assistant position starting next year.
Crowley had nothing but praise for her athlete. "As our number one, Jenna is very enthusiastic and competitive about her golf and studies," Crowley says. "Her positive attitude and winning personality are strong motivators to all on the team. Jenna loves a challenge and never allows an opponent to intimidate her. She strives to do well at all times and under all circumstances."
With golf-specific accolades like winning the Rhode Island Women's Amateur Stroke Play, the Challenge Cup's Gately Cup and coming in second in the RIWGA match play to only lose in the semi- final round, it is hard to picture this aspiring Golf Channel broadcaster as doing anything but play golf.