By: Kevin Reilly
I vividly remember asking Coach Emil how we stood overall while getting ready to hit my 3rd shot from the 18th fairway. I expected him to say we're in like 3rd or 4th but instead tells me that we were leading by one. My whole body froze for a second kind of in shock.
Everyone was depending on me, as a freshman, to secure the championship at my last hole.
I ended up with a score of 1-over par and I was just distraught because I thought I blew it. My anxiety was mounting as I thought there was no way the No. 15 team would falter.
James Lee, Landon Michelson and I were hitting balls in case there was a playoff. As I'm hitting balls, I turn around to see Tommy and Alex sprinting over to the range in celebration, threw my club in the air and we all did a dog pile. We won.
Being a team ranked around 100, and beating UAB with a kid that played in the final group of the British Open the following year, it was an experience that I'll never forget and one that automatically brings a smile to my face.
It gives me chills every time I think about it.
The warm response the community gave us made it really cool to know that I had so many people behind me.
I can't thank the Rice community enough for all the support that they've given throughout my four years. I've had such amazing people around me and I've made so many friends that I hope to keep up with for the rest of my life.
I have grown in many ways from the quiet kid from Orlando, Florida who arrived as just a leader on the course but into a leader on the course and off the course as well. The team and coach pushed me to do well from the moment I started playing.
It was a little unusual having so much pressure on me as a freshman where my team counted on my score being one of the top 4 each tournament, but I embraced it and my teammates pushed me to have probably the best, most consistent year of golf that I've ever played.
Being Conference USA Freshman of the Year and winning the first conference championship in 75 years, my first year at Rice. The kids coming in looked up to our class as the example of what Rice's future should be.
Hopefully I live long enough so I can be that old man at an alumni event telling everybody the story of us winning the first C-USA golf championship in Rice history and the first conference championship in 75 years.