Wildcat Isabelle Boineau Thrives Under First Year Head Coach Laura Ianello
- Championship Central
By Brian Price
Since joining the University of Arizona's women's golf team in 2008, Isabelle Boineau's progress has been stunning.
Boineau, of Marseille, France, began taking lessons at the age of nine and was a natural, but as she got older, found her enthusiasm for the sport diminished under the supervision of her coaches in France.
"The coaching style emphasized negativity, a lot of yelling and a constant emphasis on never being good enough. I left the course in tears often and considered quitting," says Boineau. "The year before coming to [Arizona] I just wasn't improving. I was trying, but not the right way. It was frustrating."
Her perception of golf did a 180 at Arizona. Boineau thrived from the guidance of then-assistant and current first year head coach Laura Ianello, who uses positive reinforcement as her primary motivational tactic.
"Mental strength can overcome a lot of physical deficiencies, whereas skills don't matter if your head's not in the game," Boineau says.
As a player, Ianello spent five seasons with the Wildcats where she was part of a national championship squad in 2000, and also won three Pac-10 titles. Given her experience, she understands the delicate mindsets of collegiate athletes.
"Players beat themselves up enough [mentally], and the last thing they need is a coach or parent reinforcing that negativity. I want to be there to remind them of the positives in any situation."
After particularly rough rounds, she'll typically ask her players: "What did you do great today?" and from there they'll figure out what needs work.
In short, Ianello's motto is, 'IBIY—I believe in you.'
That belief has helped Boineau garner the confidence to become a team leader. She also credits her success in golf to more astute game analysis, another cornerstone of Ianello's technique.
Adding a weight program to her regimen also helped. Boineau's ball striking, distance on drives, overall strength and consistency has continued to improve.
"Nothing has been more important in my progress as a golfer than the support and guidance I've received from [Ianello] and my teammates," Boineau says.
Ianello attributes the successful make-up of her squad to having players from all over the globe, playing together and learning from one another.
"My team is a 50-50 mix of girls that are international and girls that grew up in the States. There's a great balance," Ianello says.
In addition to Boineau, from France, upperclassmen Margarita Ramos and Alejandra Llaneza hail from Mexico City and sophomore Sherlyn Popelka is from Zurich.
Ianello has particularly enjoyed watching Ramos and Boineau connect on the course.
"Playing together, they were both qualified to be in the lineup," says Ianello. "They were never competing for the same spot so, rather than being ultra competitive, they were able to root for each other."
Ramos and Boineau were paired as freshman roommates based solely on the fact they were international students. Whether they would get along or not was an entirely different story. As it turned out Ramos spoke a little French and Boineau spoke a little Spanish. Both were also ranked No. 1 in their native countries before coming to Tucson.
"We shared the same passion for the game, related to one another as we were both [foreign] but, most of all, she was No. 1 on the team and was always willing to help me improve my own game," says Boineau.
Coming off of a successful campaign last season, in which they won the Pac-10 Championship and regionals, as well as placing fifth at the NCAA Championships, the Wildcats are locked in and ready to begin postseason play.
The key right now is staying loose.
"If we're not laughing than I'm worried," Ianello says. "These girls have a lot fun together. Sure they fight like sisters, but at the end they're very close. I think we still have yet to achieve our potential and we're all hoping our hard work will pay off at the same time."
Currently the Pac-10, in addition to No. 10 Arizona, boasts four other schools in the nation's top-ten: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 USC, No. 7 Cal and No. 9 ASU. However, Boineau & Co. are undaunted.
"My goal, as long as I've been a golfer, was to play against the best. In order to do that I knew I had to come to the Pac-10," says Boineau. "I knew being around the best would help me improve my game."