OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss’ Stani Schiavone‘s college golf career is coming to an end, and the question of what’s next begins looming for the senior who has excelled both in the classroom and on the course while in Oxford.
The women’s golf season will come to a close after the SEC Women’s Golf Championship April 17-20 Birmingham, and Schiavone couldn’t have asked for a better ending to her Rebel career.
“It means a lot to me to finish out my college career playing well and getting some awards, but really the nice thing about golf is you can play after you graduate,” Schiavone said. “It’s bittersweet, but at the same time I love playing a game I can enjoy for the rest of my life so I’m going to hang onto that and do my best for my team.”
Growing up 75 miles west of New York City, Schiavone graduated from Bangor Area Senior High School in Bangor, Pa. in 2011 before heading south to pursue college golf. After one season at Baylor she transferred to Ole Miss and immediately impacted the program both on the golf course and in the classroom.
Schiavone competed in seven tournaments her first season in Oxford, but more importantly sported a 4.0 GPA and qualified for the Chancellor’s Honor Roll. A year later, Schiavone was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and was named a WCGA All-America Scholar.
Many athletes see success in their respective sports, but not everyone excels in the classroom too. According to head coach Michele Drinkard, the awards are a testament to Schiavone’s hard work.
“It’s all peaking at the same time,” Drinkard said. “She has the persona of a student-athlete. When you’re out recruiting, you hope to find a player that has the passion, desire and heart that she has on the golf course and in the classroom. She is the epitome of a student-athlete, and she’s worked hard to get where she is.”
Schiavone has embraced the hard work attitude that every parent tries to instill in their child while they’re growing up.
“I’ve been so fortunate this last month, I’ve gotten everything I could have ever asked for in college,” Schiavone said. “I worked hard, but that doesn’t always mean you’ll get it.”
On March 13, while on a road trip to the Notre Dame Clover Cup, Schiavone learned she would be honored with the University of Mississippi’s highest academic honor, the Taylor Medal. To put it in perspective, the Taylor Medal is given to less than one percent of students at Ole Miss.
“I just feel very lucky, and very fortunate I’m able to receive an award like that,” Schiavone said. “The hard work definitely pays off when you get those kind of honors.”
It was another good week for Stani when the team traveled to Hoover, Alabama for the Samford Intercollegiate. Not only did she learn she was being honored with the female Scholar Athlete of the Year award at annual Rebels’ Choice Awards, but she also fired a 76-74-65 — 215 on her way to the first tournament win of her college career. To cap off a great few weeks, Schiavone was given SEC Player of the Week honors for her performance in Hoover.
Drinkard got straight to the point when asked about Schiavone’s constant solid performances, saying simply that she’s been the rock of the team.
Though out of athletic eligibility, the senior transfer student still has some work left before leaving Ole Miss.
“After I finish my degree I’ll see where I am and go from there,” Schiavone said. “I plan to pursue some sort of golf, whether that’s professional or amateur.”
Ole Miss has five players across professional golf between the Symetra Tour and the LPGA, but Schiavone knows sports only last so long,
“Aside from golf, my ultimate career goal would be to teach secondary mathematics,” Schiavone said. “I come from a family of teachers and it’s something I really love.”
Her days in Oxford are numbered, and coming up soon she’ll have to start looking towards the next step. When that time comes, preparation won’t be a concern.
“My time in Oxford has really helped me develop and grow,” Schiavone added. “I learned a lot about myself while I’ve been here and I feel more than prepared for my future.”
Schiavone will graduate from Ole Miss with a degree in secondary mathematics education during the 2015-16 academic year, and will evaluate the next step when that time comes. Whether it’s golf or education, the memories of her success will live on in Oxford for quite some time.
Connor Hennessey is a writer in Oxford, Miss. He works in the Ole Miss Athletics media relations office, and this story was first featured on OleMissSports.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or @ConnorUM on Twitter.