The voice of USF Athletics, Jim Louk, will routinely put down his radio headset and pick up the pen to share his perspective on the history of USF Athletics.

Louk has been broadcasting games for 27 years and is the resident historian in the Athletics Department hallways ... This week he remembers the 1990 and 1991 national championship contenders - the USF women's golf team.

The Best USF Team You’ve Never Heard Of

If I told you a USF team had a great run of success at the end of the ‘80s and beginning of the ‘90s, you would say “I know. Men’s basketball.”

True enough. That was a great era for the Bulls as they went to the NCAA Tournament twice in three years.

But there is another USF program that had even more success in those years. It was a team that put together perhaps the best two back-to-back seasons any USF program has ever enjoyed. It was a team that went to the NCAA Championships two years in a row and finished in the top 10 in the nation both times.

It was a team that came achingly close to winning a national championship.

It happened 20 years ago, making the telling of their story long overdue.

1991 Team
1991 Team
Kneeling: Margie Arnold, Coach Dan Gierlach
Standing: Anna Acker-Macosko, Jennie Holloway, Sally Dee, Susan Veasey

USF’s women’s golf ended a six-year absence from the NCAA Championships in 1990 when they made the field at Hilton Head, S.C. Arizona State won the championship that year, but there was USF, finishing 10th, right behind Stanford and just ahead of Indiana.

While the 1989-90 Top 10 finish was a great accomplishment, in reality it was only a building block to an even better season. Four of USF’s five top individual finishers in 1990 were coming back, setting the stage for another step forward in 1991.

“It was a building year,” recalls Anna Acker-Macosko, a mainstay of both NCAA Championship teams. “It takes awhile to get through the mental process of beginning to think of your team as a championship team. That year was a confidence builder.”

Dee and Veasey
All-Americans
Dee and Veasey

“We started to think of ourselves as national contenders,” says Sally Dee, a freshman on the 1989-90 team and now a USF assistant coach. “We were changing conferences frequently around that time, so we didn’t really focus on conference championships. We had a lot of confidence, and every player had a dream of playing on the LPGA tour.”

The 1990-91 season opened with a veteran core of players returning. Dee and Acker-Macosko were back, as were Susan Veasey and Jennie Holloway. Coach Dan Gierlach had arrived in January 1987 and after the success of the prior year, believed his 1990-91 squad would contend.

“I knew we had a really good team,” Gierlach says. “Any coach would like to have the seven players on that team.”

Coming in to that season, the top four were pretty well set; All-Americans Veasey and Acker-Macosko, as well as Dee and Holloway would be at the top, in varying order during the season. That allowed Gierlach to encourage competition for the fifth spot. The battle between Margie Arnold, Tracy Brush and Cynthia Hogue insured the team would be strong top to bottom.

A tournament at LSU was a key moment during the season. “It was rainy and misty,” recalls Acker-Macosko. “But we always could play in bad weather. We won that day, and that propelled us through the spring.”

“It was the worst weather you could imagine,” recalls Gierlach. “It was pouring, cold rain with puddles everywhere. But that’s when I knew they were ready. You could see it in their eyes.”

Scorecard
At the top after the first round in Columbus

A successful season led to a date at the Scarlet Course at Ohio State in Columbus for the NCAA Championships. The Bulls opened with a 298. After one round, USF was at the top of the leaderboard, three rounds away from a national championship.

“I remember them being first and I remember them not being overly surprised,” says longtime sports information director John Gerdes, who travelled with the team. “They had talent and a healthy confidence.”

“Not overly surprised,” laughs Acker-Macosko in agreement. “Maybe pleasantly surprised. I did think we had the talent for a top five finish.”

“I remember doing a TV interview and being told how surprised I must be for USF to be in first. I said to the reporter the only people that are surprised are you folks,” says Gierlach.

“When you dream you want to dream big, but we had worked hard and we deserved to be there,” adds Veasey. “We knew it wasn’t a fluke.”

There was no folding the next day, as USF matched their opening round with another 298. It wasn’t enough to preserve the lead though, as the Bulls fell to third.

With a four day total of 1,217, USF finished fourth, behind champion UCLA, San Jose State and Arizona. Acker-Macosko had the highest individual finish at 13th. Veasey was 16th, Dee 26th, Holloway 40th and Arnold 86th.

With exception of rifle and swimming, it was, and is, the best national finish for any USF team.

To Dee, the formula for success that year was simple.

Coach Gierlach
Coach Gierlach

“It began with recruiting and the players that Dan Gierlach brought in. In the end it’s all about the players. We pushed each other. We were always willing to help each other. And we got in to great tournaments, played great teams, and beat them.

“Dan Gierlach cared about us, and he let us play,” says Dee. “He motivated us by inspiring competition between us.”

Acker-Macosko, Veasey and Dee, all of whom went on to success on the LPGA tour, remember the closeness of the 1990-91 team.

“We had very different personalities,” says Acker-Macosko. “But our team really liked each other. We were like one big family and that’s one of the best life memories you can pull away from that.”

“We wanted to play well for each other,” says Veasey. “We wanted to do something great for the University.”

“I was 1,200 miles from home” adds Dee, a native of Syracuse, N.Y. “This was like a built-in sorority.”

Gierlach places the credit squarely on the players. “We never had a problem. They were so self motivated. Look at their careers. Look at where they’ve gone since.”

Indeed, the post-college resumes of the seven members of the 1990-91 team are filled with successes, on the golf course and off.

Not a surprise for a team that excelled quietly, and lifted USF women’s golf to the national stage.

Twenty years have passed, but time hasn’t lessened the accomplishments of one of the greatest teams in USF history.

GO BULLS!

Jim Louk

Be Sure to Follow the Voice of the Bulls, Jim Louk, on Twitter at @USFjimlouk

 
Jim Louk   Jim Louk
  Voice of the USF Athletics since 1983
When the 2010-11 academic year rolled around, Jim Louk began his 27th year in the athletics department at the University of South Florida and his fifth as Assistant Director of Athletics for Sales and Broadcasting.

Louk came to USF in 1983 as the radio play-by-play announcer for the Bulls’ men’s basketball team and served as the lead voice until the conclusion of the 1997 season. He then made the transition to football in USF’s inaugural 1997 season, and still serves as the team’s play-by-play announcer today. Louk will come into the 2010 football season having broadcast every Bulls’ game in their history – a span of 165 games.

Not only a contributor over the airwaves, Louk has also made his presence felt in getting other USF sports teams exposure on radio and television as well. Prior to the 2003-04 season only men’s basketball and football were consistently seen or heard in the Tampa Bay area. However, since then, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, women’s basketball, softball and baseball all make regular appearances on either radio, television or on the internet – via audio or video – with live streaming.

Truly the “Voice of USF Athletics,” in addition to men’s basketball and football, Louk has also frequently announced USF women’s basketball, baseball and softball games for both radio and television.

On the sales side, Louk heads up all season and group ticket sales for USF athletics while also overseeing a staff of three associates. The ticket sales team was part of a departmental sales effort that resulted in over 7 million dollars of USF game ticket sales in the 2009-10 academic year.

A native of Rochester, N.Y., Louk is a 1979 graduate of the University of Bridgeport where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Louk, his wife Barbara and their son Ross reside in Lutz.

Archives

05/14/10 - Fond & Funny Memories at Red McEwen Field

05/27/10 - Memories of Leagues Past

06/19/10 - Early Travel with the Bulls

06/23/10 - Home(s) of the Bulls 

07/12/10 - 21 in a Row

08/25/10 - Bring Me the Head of Rocky the Bull

09/06/10 - Another Signature Win

09/15/10 - Happy 15th Birthday, USF Football

09/17/10 - Visit with Joe Lewkowicz

09/17/10 - Visit with Sherry Bedingfield

10/18/10 - The First Bowl Game

11/03/10 - Top 10 Wins in USF Football History

11/16/10 - 1990 Sun Belt Championship

11/23/10 - Visit with Dan Holcomb

11/30/10 - Visit with Kerine Black

12/02/10 - Visit with Ross Gload

12/10/10 - Let’s Just Get This Game Over With

01/19/11 - Way Out West for the NCAA Tournament

01/31/11 - The Best Road Trip Ever
02/10/11 - History of the NCAA Tournament in Tampa Bay
03/22/11 - Go For Broke - 1986 Baseball
04/12/11 - The Wild Ride of 2007
05/20/11 - The Best USF Team You've Never Heard Of