Feb 27, 2013, 11:10 AM EDT
Kelli Oride is a sophomore from Lihue, Hawaii. Although she is thousands of miles away from the islands, she feels right at home at Notre Dame.
Oride started playing golf at a young age and her family influenced her passion for the sport.
“I was about six when I started playing,” Oride says. “I started playing golf because of my brother. He got into it first, and I just followed and I liked it a lot, so my mom got me these tiny little cut-down clubs and it just went from there.
“My goal was always to be able to play golf in college. At first, I thought it would be a long shot, but as I got older I realized that this was something I could do.”
Growing up in Hawaii, Oride did a lot of traveling in order to participate in American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) and other junior tournaments.
“When I got older I traveled to the mainland a lot and competed in a lot of tournaments,” Oride says. “Going to tournaments on the mainland was a good chunk of my summer. There weren’t any family vacation or anything like that, it was golf trips.”
Oride says she would go anywhere to compete. She knew the only way to get better was to play against the best and she was willing to go anywhere to do that.
“I went all over to wherever fit in to my schedule. I played in tournaments in California, the east coast, pretty much everywhere.”
Oride struggled in her first tournament, but she chalked that poor performance up to her lack of experience. She then won her very next tournament and that was when she first fully realized her talent.
“My very first tournament I played with a few friends from Hawaii and we all did pretty terrible, but my next tournament, I actually won. I did not know a lot of people and nobody knew me, so when I won, everyone was asking ‘Who is this girl?’”
Coming out of Kauai High School, Oride was recruited by many different schools. As the process went on, she narrowed down her choices to Oregon, Washington and Notre Dame.
After visiting the three schools, there was no doubt in her mind that Notre Dame was the place for her.
“I was looking at schools that have good academics and athletics because that was very important to me,” Oride says. “When I met the coaches here, that was a big positive for me. I really like them, they were very nice and I felt like it was a good fit. My parents were very impressed by Notre Dame and they were hoping I was too and I obviously was.”
Although South Bend is very different from where she grew up, Oride has handled the transition well.
“Because of the traveling I did when I was younger, I am used to being some place different,” she says. “Although I am from Hawaii, I like the snow, but there are some tough things about being far from home. The five-hour time difference is tough and my parents can only come to one or two tournaments, which is kind of tough, but, overall, it is not that big of an adjustment.”
Oride averaged 74.70 during the fall and is hoping to carry that good play in to the spring season.
“We finished fall really well and we hope to continue off of that,” Oride says. “Making it to nationals is definitely one of our goals that we hope to achieve. Personally, I started off shaky this past weekend, so I just have to get it back and produce some of the same scores that I had in the fall.”
Oride is a resident of Farley Hall and plans on declaring finance as her major.
Oride and the rest of the Irish will be back in action next weekend as they will play in the Clover Cup at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz.
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