Senior Annabelle Ackroyd came to Elon University to join the women’s golf team. She began playing the sport at a young age, but she said what makes her golf experience different is where she grew up — Canada.
"It is not as big there, especially because it is a cold-weather place," Ackroyd said. "As a kid, it is harder to get into it than other sports, especially as a girl. There were not many people to play with."
From Calgary, Alberta, Ackroyd said that playing golf in Canada was challenging, not just because of the limited number of people she could play with, but also because of the weather and the recruiting process.
“To a certain point there is no other girls to play with, you play with your dad, your guy buddies, but there are no other girls playing tournaments and pushing you, coming from Canada,” Ackroyd said.
Ackroyd saw an opportunity when she began to take golfing more seriously.
"You have to stand out to be recruited from Canada," Ackroyd said.
Playing tournaments since she was 10 years old, the University of Minnesota recruited her five years later. After two years at the public school, she was looking for something different.
She then transferred to Elon University her junior year because she wanted a smaller school and loved the golf program and the beautiful campus.
During Ackroyd's recruitment process, head coach Chris Dockrill said he believed it was a good opportunity to take Ackroyd since she could play year-round, something she is unable to do in Canada due to the weather. He said her hard-working and competitive nature made Ackroyd stand out.
An International Experience
Like Ackroyd's experience, freshman Ashley Lafontaine from Ottawa, Ontario, also emphasized her challenges with receiving recognition in Canada for golf. Through perseverance and hard work, Lafontaine committed to Elon for golf and its academics.
"I wanted to come here because there are some golf programs in Canada that are pretty good, but in general, it is harder,” Lafontaine said.
Since coming to Elon, Lafontaine has built a strong relationship with her teammates and said that the team's diversity has made each player come together and appreciate their different experiences. She added that she knew she could make a difference on this team.
Much like Ackroyd, Dockrill said Lafontaine has positively impacted the program as a freshman.
"She's been very tough, and for her age, she is very mature on the golf course," Dockrill said. "She was a heavily recruited player but a late bloomer as far as Canadian golf goes."
Dockrill said he has a roster of players from around the world and recognizes the great opportunities that Elon can provide for international students. He also acknowledges the different stages both Ackroyd and Lafontaine are at in their golfing careers.
"We have had a lot of different nationalities play for us," Dockrill said. "I've enjoyed recruiting worldwide."
Dockrill, a Canadian himself, recognizes that their home country has produced many great players.
Sharing their home country has created a relationship between Ackroyd and Lafontaine that translates even when they are not golfing together.
"I'm very lucky that I have Ash because we can talk about things from home," Ackroyd said. "She is a reminder of home."
As the current captain of the women’s golf team, Ackroyd said she appreciates the opportunities Elon has given her. She adds she’s also happy to have a teammate from home to make her golf experience easier.
"It helps us inspire other people back home that might be wanting to do the same thing as us," Lafontaine said.