Who We Are: Carolina Melgrati
The uncertainty of attending college in a different country can be a lot for any student-athlete to cope with. So you will have to forgive freshman golfer Carolina Melgrati's heightened uncertainty of around committing to the Wildcats at the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic, especially coming from Italy where COVID-19 hit very hard early on. With the help of the program and the athletic department's medical staff, Melgrati didn't just make it to the University of Arizona but is thriving in her first semester of college.
"From the deepest of my heart, I wanted to come to Arizona to play golf," Melgrati said. "I knew that would be the best experience possible for me."
Her final year of high school was impacted by COVID-19 and her home nation's strict quarantine and lockdown guidelines. Italy's golf courses and facilities were closed. She made the best of her grandmother's small, covered outdoor courtyard for her short game. Melgrati described it as "a very intense change" that added another layer of anxiety about her future in college golf.
"I was a little scared of the unknown of moving to the United States during a pandemic and not knowing if I could get back to playing my best golf."
Melgrati arrived in Tucson in the middle of August and her anxiety was eased as she began her career as a student and working with Arizona's first-class medical and athletic training staff.
"My concerns about being able to play golf, during the pandemic, in the United States went away as soon as I got here," she continued. "I was able to start playing again with the team, and our medical staff has been amazing. Our team doctors and trainers really take care of us and played a huge part of removing my concerns. They are behind our whole team and make us feel safe and healthy."
With a newfound confidence in hand, Melgrati began her lifelong golf dreams by training, practicing and qualifying with the rest of the program. It was her return to regular golf for the first time in over a year, and there were some nerves.
"I was excited but also nervous," she observed. "I didn't know how good or how bad I was going to play. I was playing with my teammates, which was the start of our growth as a team. We have so many great players on our team. Just being able to hang out with the team outside on the golf course was big for me because it really built chemistry and allowed us to grow a bond."
Her first rounds on course with Arizona's decorated returners also provided Melgrati with the opportunity to witness the strengths of her new teammates firsthand.
On Yu-Sang Hou: "Ability to putt and her power and accuracy off the tee."
On Vivian Hou: "Unbelievable short game and hits every shot straight."
On Gile Bite Starkute: "Her power with her swing is really impressive to see."
On Ya Chun Chang: "A very strong mindset based off her experience."
The Italian began trying to develop those strengths of her teammates in her own game and worked tirelessly through qualifying. Her acclimation to college golf at a new school in a new country with new coaches and teammates didn't take long. Melgrati was able to crack the lineup of the returner-heavy rotation in the first two months of her college career.
"It's really hard to describe my feelings of how proud I was to make the lineup in the fall during my first couple of months in college," Melgrati said. "I was proud of my journey to get to this point, through the pandemic and moving to another country for college. I was accomplishing my dream since I was ten years old."
She didn't just make the lineup for the tournaments, but Melgrati went on to post three top-15 finishes in some of the most prestigious tournaments in college golf.
Melgrati was also able to grow with her teammates away from the course as well. The Italian has been able to show off her cooking and baking prowess, impressing her teammates and coaches with a homemade lava cake desert and has made plans for regional pasta and risotto dishes in the near future.
"To be able to bring a little bit of my home with me to share with my golf family is a special thing for me," Melgrati noted. "It would have been hard for me to imagine being in this position with all the uncertainty of things, but it's just a small symbol of how fortunate I have been to be a part of this community here in Arizona."
With her first semester as a Wildcat behind her, Carolina Melgrati has a lot to appreciate. She found ease of mind during a global pandemic as she joined the Wildcat Family and got back to playing the game that she loves on a full-time basis.
"Looking back at my journey to this point, it's really hard to believe. I am proud of what I have achieved and want to continue to build off that journey next semester."
If this fall was any indication, next semester will hold more growth and development as a golfer. It will also hold some risotto and pasta as well for herself and her teammates.