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Turlock golfer makes college decision: Simpson University
Turlock High girls golfer Stephanie Hammell signs her letter of intent to play for Simpson University on Tuesday morning. The senior made 20 college visits before making a final decision. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal
When Steve Hammell wanted to pick up golf, his father wasn’t quick to hand him gloves, a club and a golf ball. The inspiring golfer had to learn the rules of the game first, and that led to actual playing on the course and golf etiquette.
The Hammell family philosophy of taking your time to learn and understand something hasn’t changed — and it was passed on to his daughter. Stephanie Hammell never rushed her college recruiting process. The Turlock High girls golfer visited every school possible and it wasn’t until the last visit that she realized where she wanted to go to college.
The winner: Simpson University.
The college in Redding participates in the NAIA and will welcome Hammell next season after she officially signed her letter of intent Tuesday morning at Turlock High in front of family, friends, coaches and administrators. They were all happy that she finally made a decision after beginning the recruiting process last summer, especially Simpson University athletic director Joe Griffin, who was in attendance.
“I just want her to sign,” he said, as his comment generated laughs.
Hammell didn’t take her sport seriously until she started playing girls golf as a freshman under Turlock coach Mary Krupka. And Hammell didn’t think about taking the college golf route until former teammate Spencer Heller signed with Sonoma State last season.
But first, Hammell had to finish her senior season, which took place in the fall. It ended in success, as the Bulldogs captured their fourth consecutive Central California Conference title. Hammell went on to compete at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament.
After that, she really hit the recruiting trail.
She visited 19 schools in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico and up and down California before landing at the Simpson University campus after receiving an e-mail from coach Marc Vilas, who found Hammell on a recruiting Web site. She felt immediately at home on the 92-acre of the private, liberal arts campus. It was a no-brainer, and the Bulldogs earned their second four-year college recruit under Krupka’s six-year watch.
“Obviously, there was a plan and it was meant to be Simpson,” Hammell said. “Now, it’s going to be hard to leave everything behind. But I’m glad that I’ve figured out where I’m gonna go ... I felt like it was a second home when I stepped on campus. And I just knew this was going to be the college that I was going to.
“It felt like home and that’s what I need when I’m leaving home.”
Hammell’s smile was nonstop during Tuesday’s signing. Her dad held the same look on his face.
“It’s very exciting for me, being a golfer myself and never being able to play college golf,” Steve Hammell said. “At the time, I wasn’t interested in golf, only in my adult life. And it’s been a real pleasure watching her grow as a young woman and as a golfer. We’re looking forward to the next four years.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.