RIO GRANDE, Ohio — University of Rio Grande athletic director Jeff Lanham has announced the hiring of Lauren Lee as the school’s new head golf coach.
Lee, a native of Musselburgh, Scotland and a Spring 2021 graduate of the University of Northwestern Ohio, takes over for Keith Wilson, who retired from coaching shortly after the conclusion of the 2021 season.
“We’re very excited to have Lauren join our team at Rio as the new head coach of both the men’s and women’s golf programs,” Lanham said. “We would also like to thank coach Wilson for guiding Rio golf for the past five years. We feel that coach Lee will be able to build on this foundation and continue to grow both programs.”
Lee was an all-Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference honoree this Spring after helping UNOH to a league title and its fourth straight appearance in the NAIA National Championship.
“It’s a new adventure for me and I’m excited to get the ball rolling,” said Lee. “I’ve been in the state of Ohio for the past four years and wanted to get into the golf coaching side of things. The opportunity to do that came up and I’m honored to be given the chance to go for it.”
Lee’s performance with the Racers steadily progressed throughout her career, including a WHAC Women’s Golfer of the Week honor for the week ending March 28 after she posted a second-place finish in the Oliver Nazarene University Spring Intercollegiate.
“Coach Lee has the unique combination of a heart for student-athletes, the ability to teach the game of golf, to communicate clearly and the expression of a tremendous passion for the game of golf,” said Lanham. “This blend will quickly move our golf student-athletes to amazing heights on the course, in the classroom and in the community.”
Lee, who’ll be coaching players who are, essentially, her same age, said the lack of an age gap is something she can use to her advantage.
“Actually, I see it as a benefit,” she said. “Through the coaches I’ve had in my own career, I know what is to be expected and I know what I’d like to do with the players we have now and the ones we’ll have in the future. The goal is to do what we did in the program I’m coming from and that is to get to the nationals.”
And what about the opportunity to coach players of the opposite sex? While those situations are commonplace in high school and collegiate athletics with men coaching both genders, having a woman coach male athletes is, in many circles, still considered trend-setting.
“I don’t believe it’s a gender issue as much as it is a coaching issue in general,” Lee said. “It’s all about making players better and seeing that they enjoy the college experience.”
Lee added that she plans to recruit throughout the state of Ohio and the region, but added that she hopes to bring the RedStorm rosters something they’ve lacked since the revival of the programs – an international flair.
“At the end of the day, it’s about having your best five players out there. But at the same time, it would be nice to have some variety,” said Lee, who saw the majority of her teammates at UNOH hail from outside the United States. “Whether they’re from Ohio, somewhere else domestically or if they’re an international student, it’s all about trying to build the best team that you can and then putting the best five we’ve got out there. Based on the scores that I’ve seen, I think we need to work on building up the women’s program from the back end of the conference and then try to advance the men even further than where they already are.”
Lee, who will also serve as the school’s International Student Athlete Liaison, facilitating and acting as a primary point-of-contact for international students, said she’ll be on campus in roughly two weeks to get the process underway.
“There’s plenty of work to do,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.