WHAT A JOURNEY

By Emilie Ricaud

This series is brought to you by United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

My journey to the US and my time here as a college golfer is not your everyday story.

I’m a bit of rare breed.

You see, I come from a very small island off of the coast of Australia, New Caledonia. 

Not only did I move away from home to pursue the life of a student-athlete, I’m now also one of just two players that has been a part of our four-year streak of qualifying for regionals.

I’m especially proud to accomplish this feat because it’s not just about me. It’s about my teammates and coaches as well.

We’ve worked so hard together to put UNT golf on the map and make history.

Truthfully, I wouldn’t be where I am now without my team and their unwavering support.

My start in golf

The journey to my first regional started early in my life, when I would sneak into the backyard with my grandpa, and we’d hit plastic golf balls for hours on end.

I was born and raised in New Caledonia, a small island located far away in the Pacific Ocean. New Caledonia is a beautiful placebut it’s a bit isolated and remote.

Golf was my ‘escape.’

I wasn’t the most outgoing person in school, but when I was out on the course, I felt confident and free. Plus, golf made me a more social and cultured person. I traveled to Australia, France, and New Zealand — all because of golf.

It was amazing.

But I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to attend college in the United States. In fact, I never thought I’d even set foot in America. That all changed when I was invited to play in the Doral Publix Junior Golf Classic in Miami. It was the first time my dad and I had ever been to the U.S., and it was everything I dreamed it would be.

The facilities were top-notch, and the golf courses were some of the best I’d ever seen. But the most memorable part of the trip was the people. The other playersthe coaches — everyone was so welcoming and friendly. It was then that I realized I wanted to come to the U.S. to continue my golf career.

The recruiting process

When it was time to start looking at colleges, UNT was the clear choice for me. Coach Akers had been following my progress for a whileand he was very interested in having me join the team.

I was a little nervous about moving halfway around the world from my family, but I was excited for the opportunity to play for such a great program.

And I’m so glad I made the decision to come to UNT. I’ve had the time of my life hereand I’ve made memories and friendships that will last forever.

No doubt.

And while my time here as a UNT student-athlete came to a close a few days ago, I’m very excited for what the future holds.

I was a little nervous about moving halfway around the world from my family, but I was excited for the opportunity to play for such a great program. And I’m so glad I made the decision to come to UNT. I’ve had the time of my life here, and I’ve made memories and friendships that will last forever.

The best team

When I first got to UNT, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was in a new country, surrounded by new people, and I was far away from my family and friends back home.

But the transition was actually smoother than I thought it would be. I think a big part of that was because of my teammates.

They were all so welcoming and supportive. They made me feel like part of the family from day one, and I’ll always be grateful to them for that.

I also owe a lot of credit to our coaching staff. Since I joined UNT my freshman year, Coach Akers has been like a father away from home.

He’s always there for us, no matter what. Whether we need help with our swing or just someone to talk to, he’s always willing to listen and help out in any way he can.

He’s been a huge influence on me both on and off the course, and I’m so grateful for everything he’s done for me.

During my time at UNT, I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the country and play against some of the best competition in the world.

But more than that, I’ve had the opportunity to build strong relationships with my teammates and coaches.

We’re more than just a team — we’re a family. And I think that’s been one of the main contributors to our success.

When we’re out on the course, we know we can count on each other. We push each other to be the best we can be, and we always have each other’s backs, no matter what.

With this mindset, we’ve been able to accomplish some amazing things in my time here at UNT.

We won three straight conference championshipswe’ve qualified for regionals four straight years, and we just had our best-ever team round in the NCAA tournament in program history to close out my college career. 

I’m so proud of everything we’ve been able to achieve, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Reaching new heights

After I graduate from UNT, I’m planning on turning pro and pursuing a career in golf.

I know it won’t be easy, but I’m excited for the challenge, and I’m confident that the lessons I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve had here at UNT have prepared me for whatever the future holds.

No matter what happens, I’ll always be grateful for my time here at UNT.

It’s been an incredible journey, and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing program.

I’m proud to be a part of the UNT family, and I’ll always carry the memories and the friendships I’ve made here with me as I move forward in life.

As my dad always tells me when I’m on the golf course, “un point c’est un point, un point c’est tout!” — it means that I should take one shot at a time and commit to every shot because every shot counts.

And that’s exactly what I plan on doing in my golf career after college, too.