Texas A&M women’s golf senior Courtney Dow experienced a whirlwind of emotions during what was supposed to be her final semester in Aggieland.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the SEC announced the cancellation of all regular season conference and non-conference competitions for the 2019-2020 athletic year.
The news instantly sparked questions regarding contingency plans and eligibility relief for affected student-athletes. During that time of uncertainty, Dow realized how much she was going to miss hearing her name called as a representative of A&M every time she teed up and longed for an extra year.
She hoped for a victory lap, and according to the NCAA’s statement on March 30, a victory lap is what she and all other spring athletes are getting.
“I absolutely plan on taking the extra year to finish out my career with my teammates,” Dow said. “I’m grateful to the NCAA for giving back this opportunity and am ready to make the most of it.”
Although Dow’s senior season ended earlier than expected, she managed to collect her 17th career top-25 finish and sharpen her craft in the six tournaments that were played prior to the suspension. Her best finish of the fall season occurred at the Battle of the Beach Tournament in Cabo, Mexico, where Dow finished in fourth place at 6-under with rounds of 71, 71 and 68.
Dow currently ranks fifth on A&M’s career stroke average list at 73.98 and has registered 31 career rounds of even par-or-better, the fifth-most for an Aggie in school history.
She was also named to the SEC All-Freshman Team, earned SEC Golfer of the Week honors during her junior season and has consistently had top-10 finishes each year.
“Courtney has shown tremendous improvement with her game since I arrived [at Texas A&M] for her junior season,” women’s golf coach Andrea Gaston said. “I have appreciated how she keeps an upbeat attitude even when she’s not at her best. She is always striving to be better.”
Despite her immense success on the course, it is her involvement in organizations outside of athletics that makes her resume impressive.
In addition to her active participation in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Dow is the vice president of student-athlete wellness for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), a position for which she was nominated by coaches and athletic administrators. The purpose of the SAAC is to be a voice for student-athletes, as well as a liaison between the athletes and administration.
One of the responsibilities that SAAC members have is to serve as a sounding board for the NCAA over proposed legislative changes. When the NCAA drafts new bylaws, SAAC brings in staff members from the athletic department’s compliance office to explain the proposed rule changes and what some of the potential impacts might be. SAAC members then vote on the proposed NCAA bylaw changes.
Dow has been involved in the discussion and voting of two historic decisions: the pay-to-play legislation and the COVID-19 eligibility relief. Dow said this process has taught her to think about things differently and has shown her how the rules protect and influence the student-athlete experience.
“Pay-to-play and the discussion over name, image and likeness was the first to really get me excited about legislation and led me to considering a change in career plans,” Dow said.
Although Dow does not have a specific job title in mind, she attributes her involvement in SAAC for revealing her passion for sports legislation and shaping her career goals. In the future, she plans to attend graduate school for sport management with hopes of then going to law school.
Dow said she hopes to gain a sense of clarity and better understanding of sports administration over the next few years as she pursues her masters degree.
“I am particularly interested in the legal aspect, so maybe working in an athletic department’s compliance office or working in compliance for the NCAA,” Dow said. “I would also be really interested in working in professional sports, so there are a lot of opportunities to explore there as well.”
As a member and officer of SAAC, Dow also helps organize community service opportunities for student-athletes, such as the “AGGIES CAN” food drive. This student-run food drive is held every year in November with the purpose of helping stock the Brazos Valley Food Bank prior to the holiday season.
In addition to FCA and SAAC, Dow also dedicates time to her involvement in a student organization known as Team 12. As a member of this organization, she serves A&M’s athletic department and Letterman’s Association. Team 12 gives her the opportunity to serve prospective student-athletes, as well as welcome former A&M athletes back to Aggieland.
“Courtney is one of those people you just want to be involved with anything you’re working on,” Team 12’s faculty advisor Lindsey Quisenberry said. “She is fully committed to the moment and gives everything her all. She has a great vision for Team 12, and I am so thankful she is helping lead it into the future.”
Dow said being involved in the student organization has provided her with a sense of normalcy and a break from the world of college athletics.
“Ultimately I think it has given me a really healthy balance of golf and life, and a separation that I needed to find,” Dow said. “My outside involvement in these organizations have been incredible additions to my life and have been huge parts of my college experience.”
In addition to Dow’s upbeat attitude and resiliency, Gaston said she has been impressed with how Courtney handles all of her responsibilities.
“Courtney has done a great job managing her time as a student-athlete,” Gaston said. “She has excelled in the classroom while balancing her time as a student and as an athlete.”
Due to the extenuating circumstances, Dow will no longer be forced to say goodbye to A&M or the golf team at the end of the semester. What she anticipated would be her “lasts” this school year are no longer true, which is something worth celebrating, Dow said.
“Texas A&M is special, and I have never been surrounded by so many people that are so eager to pour into me and encourage me,” Dow said. “That culture is something I hope to carry with me wherever I go next.”