It has been a nice, long run for best friends, roommates and teammates Amanda Teodorsson and Bhanisha Nagindas, who together made a huge impact on Gannon University’s women’s golf team since joining it in 2010.
The two have just finished their golf college careers, capturing the fifth team title of the season in their last tournament April 18-19 at Lake Shore Country Club. They finished their season as the top two in career scoring average since women’s golf began at Gannon in 2005, with Teodrosson’s 0.88 lead over Naginda’s 81.04 average score.
A senior business administration major with a marketing minor, Teodorsson won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference on an individual level during her sophomore year, was named a PSAC scholar athlete once, was named PSAC Freshman of the Year, won the Mercyhurst Invitational in 2011-2012 and shared the Mercyhurst tournament individual win with Nagindas last semester.
Nagindas, now captain of the team, has been named as a PSAC scholar-athlete three times, placed in the top three for four years in PSAC tournament play and won the Ohio Valley Invitational and Mercyhurst Invitational on an individual level.
Born to a Fijian father and an Indian mother, Nagindas has been golfing since she was 12 years old, following in the footsteps of her father. She has been coached by Sean Foley, now Tiger Woods’ swing instructor, for four years.
Teodorsson also started playing the game at an early age, using plastic golf clubs at age 6. She also followed in the footsteps of her parents, who both played the sport. Her interest in the game, however, wasn’t fully sparked until she reached high school.
“In high school I got more friends who played as well,” she said. “I also improved and started to hit the ball longer and started winning some tournaments, etc., and that made it more fun.”
She joined Gannon after Jason Willow, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Sport and Exercise Science program who was the women’s golf head coach, contacted her. After several Skype phone calls, Teodorsson made her way from Savedalen, Sweden, to Gannon.
Before coming to Gannon, Nagindas, a Toronto native, played in eight junior golf tours in Canada and won regional districts every year in high school. She came to Gannon to join the golf team and get an American education in the states, which was an “experience of a lifetime.”
“I liked coming to a different country and not knowing anyone; it made me stronger and so independent,” she said.
Like many other student-athletes in their beginnings, Nagindas and Teodorsson struggled with juggling their academic and athletic schedule, but were soon accustomed to it.
“Golf gave me less time to study,” Teodorsson said. “In the beginning the classes were not as hard as they are now, but I have become better with finishing assignments and work early as well.”
Nagindas also ran into the same problem, until she figured out how to prioritize her tasks, which meant she had to compromise on some aspects – like spending time with friends, relaxing and other things “every other student experiences” – of her life. She said she has no regrets, though.
“At the end, I guess it feels rewarding.” She said. “All the hard work paid off and the benefits outweighed the negatives; it was worth it and we had fun and it was great accomplishing these things.”
Both Nagindas and Teodorsson joined the golf team with a strong recruiting class of international students, who soon found a family in each other away from their homes.
“It was like a small family,” Teodorsson said. “We got so close to each other when we traveled and during practice.
“We also hang out and take care of each other outside golf as well.”
The two became especially close, and have been roommates since their sophomore year, which brought the two closer year after year, they both acknowledged.
“We’ve been roommates for three years now and that’s great,” Teodrosson said. “Bhanisha is very funny and we always have a blast together and we try to help each other out with the game.”
Nagindas echoed Teodorsson’s feelings.
“Not only is Amanda a great player, but also a great friend,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine my college golf experience without her.”
Before the 2010 recruits, the team had never won a conference championship or made it to regionals. Now, the team boasts two PSAC titles and participation in regionals, among other accomplishments and recognitions.
Abby Sorensen, head coach of women’s golf, said these accomplishments were made possible by both of the players’ contributions and their team-oriented spirit, making them the best golf athletes in Gannon’s history.
Teodorsson, Sorensen said, made the team better by sharing golfing tips with her teammates and helping with practices and drills. As for Nagindas, Sorensen said her concern for the team and her fun, genuine character were some of the reasons she named her captain.
“She’s never worried about herself; she’d rather see her team play well than see herself win,” Sorensen said. “She’s fun, genuine, caring, so well-respected and so well-liked by her team mates.
“If Bhanisha has one flaw, it would be that she’s humble.”
This sense of teamwork was especially evident during this year’s PSAC championship, when Nagindas was the runner-up for the championship. Sorensen said the individual race came down to the last putts on the last hole, and the team championship was decided by just two strokes.
Nagindas was in the last group of golfers and narrowly missed a par putt, which she unknowingly needed in order to tie the eventual winner.
“When she walked off the green, exhausted after battling through a challenging round, she hugged me and asked ‘What did I need for us to win?’” Sorensen said. “In that moment she had no concern for herself and her chances of winning the individual title, she only cared about her teammates and winning it for them.
“That kind of selflessness and team leadership can’t be taught – it is innate in Bhanisha and it’s what has made her such a special person to coach.”
Reflecting back on that moment, Nagindas said she felt happy for the person who won, but it was also frustrating because she was so close and was “fighting the whole round to play better.”
Sorensen said having Nagindas on the team was one of the primary reasons she was excited to start coaching two years ago. The two played together on a particularly rainy day when Sorensen was a senior at Allegheny College.
“Normally this [weather] makes for a very miserable day of competition, but playing with Bhanisha was a blast,” Sorensen said. “We both played really well because we had fun from start to finish.”
Nagindas’ friendliness toward her competition, Sorensen said, leaves a lasting impression on the other college golfers who play with her.
“Other coaches and golfers would sometimes ask me what number she was playing because they wanted to be paired with her,” she said. “I can’t think of many other college sports where opponents want to compete against someone in such a positive way.”
After graduation in May, Teodorsson plans to go back to Sweden and continue working on her golf game. She plans to eventually pursue a master’s in business there.
Nagindas plans to pursue a master’s of accounting degree at Gannon after she graduates in May.
Her contribution to the team will not be forgotten easily, Sorensen said.
“We’re going to miss her very, very much after she graduates,” she said. “I’m happy she’s going stick around after because she’s one of the players who will influence our team long after she graduates.”
In the long run, Nagindas hopes to pursue golf professionally.
“To tour one day is my dream,” she said. “It may never happen but it’s my dream.”