Park University's women's golf program added two student-athletes for the 2014-15 season on National Signing Day (Feb. 5) Wednesday, inking Belton High School's Rachel Hoffman (Belton, Mo.) and Lina Baquero (Cali, Colombia), who is currently a sophomore at Dodge City Community College.
"These two young ladies are exactly what we're looking for in student-athletes at Park University," said Park golf coach Steve Wilson. "With both, the recruiting process started with a discussion on academics, and they both wanted to make sure that they were a good academic fit before we said anything about our golf program. These are two young ladies that have their priorities in line, and with both of them, it's academics first, followed by golf. They're both great fits in our program and will become great teammates for the other girls from day one on campus."
Hoffman is one of the most decorated golfers in the history of Belton High School, owning the school's nine-hole record by firing a back-nine 35 at the Missouri sectional tournament in Marshfield, Mo. Hoffman had a share of the record already, shooting 38 at Eagle's Landing in September, tying a former Park Pirate, Callie Porter, who had the record and played for the Pirates for two seasons from 2010 to 2012. Hoffman's 35 came after a front-nine 45, finishing with 80 to place 10th at the sectional tournament.
A four-year all-conference player, Hoffman shot 79 at Hoot's Hollow as a senior to take fourth in Missouri District 5, qualifying for the Missouri Class 2 State Championship at Meadow Lake Acres Country Club in New Bloomfield. She also finished seventh at the William Chrisman/Truman Invitational at Drumm Farm, shooting 83 on Sept. 9.
"Rachel has all the potential to progress toward being a top player in this program by the time her four years are done at Park," Wilson said. "She is an extremely sharp young woman, one of the smartest young people I've encountered in my years involved with collegiate athletics. That intellect, along with her athletic ability, will make her a perfect fit in this program. She has all the tools to be a great player, but people will remember her for the kind of person she is. She will make an immediate impact on our campus and in our program."
In addition to her time spent on the golf course, Hoffman is a four-year letterwinner in the Belton High School swimming program, and she intends to major in accounting at Park.
"The first time I stepped on campus, I knew it was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life," Hoffman said. "It felt like a second home. All the people are so genuine and care about your success as an individual."
Baquero comes from a tradition-rich junior college program at Dodge City, helping the Conquistadors to a fall championship in the Jayhawk Conference at Coffeyville in September. Baquero was eighth in the 54-hole event with a two-day 139, two shots off her best 54-hole score of the fall season, 137, at Colby Community College where she was ninth individually.
"Lina is a rare combination for our program, being a veteran to collegiate golf but a newcomer to our program," Wilson said. "She's competed at a very high level and in some very tough fields, so I think she will be ready for life in the NAIA and in the American Midwest Conference. She has all of the tools to help us become a better golf team, and she gets the most out of her practice sessions. I'm most impressed by her academics, though, and that's something she intends to carry with her in the next two years with our program."
Baquero will finish her eligibility at Dodge City Community College with a five-tournament spring schedule this spring. She will major in business at Park.
"I am very excited to be a part of the Pirate family," Baquero said. "I know it will be an enriching experience for me, and I will have the opportunity to learn new things, along with improving my game. I'm very excited to come to Park University."
The Pirates are scheduled to play seven spring events in 2014, ending with the American Midwest Conference Championship May 5-6 at Blytheville Country Club in Blytheville, Ark. The schedule also includes the 2014 Virginia McCoy Intercollegiate, hosted by Park University at The Deuce at The National Golf Club of Kansas City April 7-8 in Parkville.