Shelby Shote ’15
I’ll start off with the simple question. Why golf?
It’s a good question. It was different, it made me stand out and I wanted to play with my dad. He always played and I wanted to hang out with him. I was eight when I started playing; this was after I came to America from Nigeria. I played soccer also, but right before high school I stopped playing that and stuck with golf.
How was your golf career while in high school?
I played on my high school’s team, and I was the only girl on the team and I started playing No. 1 because I was beating all the guys. That boosted my ego; I realized I was kinda good. My dad’s friends told him I could get a scholarship for this. We started looking into that. We wanted to find a good school that had good golf. And then, we found Williams.
How did the boys with whom you were playing in high school feel about you beating them?
Oh, they did not like it at first. I played off the red tees in the front so they felt I was getting an advantage. Our high school coach then made me play off the tees on which they were playing and I still beat them. Now, these guys had nothing to say because I was beating them at the same level. At the end of the day, they realized I was there for them, helping them and helping our team. I still played from the red tees to give our team an advantage, but I could play as well as they could. I shot lower and it was good for our score.
How was captaining a team that exclusively consisted of boys?
I was captain my junior and senior years of high school. After I proved myself, they swallowed their pride and acknowledged I deserved [my position.] We had a lot of fun. We had an initiation, which we were not allowed to do. Every freshman who joined the team after tryouts had to eat a “flatliner,” a really spicy wing at the Wing Factory that you have to sign a waiver to eat because it is deathly. It should be outlawed. [Laughs.] It’s really disgusting and I had to do it. It was really bad. I just ate it and drank milk and then I started to drink ice water but you are not actually supposed to drink water. I went home, told my mom and she instructed me never to do that again. I just responded, “Oops! Sorry!” [Laughs.]
Has the College remained a great place for you to both get a quality education and play top golf ?
These four years have been really, really good. I appreciate everything that Williams has done for me. In junior year of high school when I was playing well, I e-mailed a bunch of coaches all over the New England area and the Head Coach from here, Erika DeSanty, was the first to reply to me. From there on out, I knew I was coming to Williams. Being here, I find a really good balance. There are times where I have no idea how I am going to finish everything I need to finish, play well and do any extracurricular activity that is different from golf, but I am a senior now, so I guess I have made it through.
What are you up to off the course besides academics?
I am Secretary and College Council (CC) liaison for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and usually I go to our board meetings for SAAC and CC meetings and bridge the gap between what student-athletes are talking about and what CC is going to be talking about.
What has been the most important objective you have had in those roles?
I really want students on campus to understand that student-athletes do not really get any special treatment because we are athletes. We struggle just as much as anyone does. What you are doing on campus, that is basically your athletics. Whether you are doing a cappella, acting or the Record, that is your thing besides schoolwork. They all take time. We really are not getting any special treatment and for students who think that we do, I just want them to understand where we are coming from and for us to get where they are coming from.
What are your thoughts on any divide between athletes and nonathletes, and do you think those relations have improved during your time at Williams?
I think they have definitely improved, but there is definitely still a divide. I’m thinking of that op-ed in the Record” (“On athletic arrogance,” Nov. 12, 2014) and I think about how my best friend is in Kusika, a dance group, and she has practice from four to six every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She then has shows on Saturdays. She’s exhausted by the time we both start homework. It’s all about a level of understanding.
What’s the team dynamic been like for you?
I think the women’s golf team gets along the best of any team on this campus. There is no bad apple on our team. Everybody gets along, everybody is looking out for each other. Whenever something is going on with one player, anyone really on the team will stop and ask them to vent. Our team dynamic is extremely positive.
What are you going to remember most about the team?
How much we all loved food. [Laughs.] Sixty percent of our conversations have to do with food. It is nice to sit around with girls and talk about food. Also, the laughs we have had … I am getting emotional … just everything we do, all the movies we have seen together, cooking together during Spring Break, has allowed to form really close bonds beyond playing together on the golf course.