April 30, 2004
By Elizabeth Schaeffer
Growing up in Perth, Australia, Washington State University golfer Jay-Lee Longbottom wasn't accustomed to playing any high school sports. All that was available to her athletically came in the form of club sports.
At the age of six her father introduced his three daughters to golf. From the get go Longbottom considered herself very competitive. 'Since I started playing, I just always wanted to be a professional,' she said.
Of her parental influence, Longbottom says, 'My parents were really supportive, they're the kind of parents that just let me go and do whatever. They were really, really encouraging. They would do anything for me.'
Now at WSU, Longbottom is experiencing that encouragement as a result of daily college life.
Longbottom was never a real fan of school during her prep years, so when she came to college, she never thought that it would be so easy to enjoy her schoolwork. In addition, she never thought she would ever apply it to her life, until she discovered psychology.
When classes began at WSU, Longbottom started taking some psychology courses and found a connection to the subject
'I told my parents that I just loved it,' she said.
Longbottom discovered that psychology applies to the real world much more than other subjects. Psychology carries an added bonus - valuable insight into her golfing game.All the little things Longbottom had been learning about the human psyche seemed to have affected the way she prepares for play.
'I used to be all about being really serious and really focused,' Longbottom said. 'Now I just try to keep a relaxed mentality and do a lot of imagined rehearsals [of the course]. I think it has helped my performance.'
She also never thought that she would feel so much support from the college as a student- athlete.
Longbottom says that the Athletic Department at WSU 'Is amazing! They have such a great program for the student-athletes. It is amazing to me to see just how much they encourage and support your academic career and your athletic career.'
Pullman was a little bit of a surprise to Longbottom, a pleasant surprise. She has grown to love the small town.
She states, 'College is just something that people in my country don't get to experience, and everything about this town is catered around the college. It is a setting that I haven't experienced before, and I really enjoy it.'
Where golfing is concerned, practicing indoors wasn't something Longbottom was familiar with either. However, it is clear that she appreciates what indoor practice has done for her game.
Longbottom relates, 'I really think that working indoors has helped me. You don't always see the results, you just work on your swing and get a feel for it. It definitely gives you more confidence.'
WSU Head Coach Walt Williams impacted Longbottom with his level of commitment toward her before they even met.
Williams received Lonbottom's reply of interest from an email that reached her by what she calls 'chance.' The reply resulted in an official visit to Pullman from Australia, and eventually an athletic scholarship to play golf.
It has paid off for Longbottom as she has recorded 16 career top 25 finishes, including seven in the top 10 and a victory at the Inland Collegiate in February.
WSU has changed Longbottom's outlook in some very impacting ways. She has learned that college can be interesting, small towns can be enjoyed, and coaches have faith.
Her passion for golf has intensified, and her philosophy has matured.
According to Longbottom, 'Golf is so mental that it is character building. It teaches you a lot about life, and the way you handle yourself out on the golf course. You learn so much about yourself, what you can do in your mind, and how you can control your thoughts and actions.'