Former Hereford High School golfer Sammi Stevens fulfilled a lifelong dream last Thursday when she signed a national letter of intent to play golf at the University of New Mexico.
Stevens, a high school senior who is attending the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla., this year, has been golfing almost since she learned how to walk and has wanted to play for New Mexico almost since she began school.
“I’ve seriously wanted to be a Lobo since I was seven years old,” Stevens said from Florida earlier this week. “I’ve always loved Albuquerque as a place. For women’s golf, it’s a great program. They’ve been in the top 20 of the national rankings for the last 17 years. They have a really strong women’s golf team. I’m really excited the way it worked out.”
Stevens, who tied for fourth place at the UIL state meet last season and earned first team All-State honors, verbally committed to New Mexico in August but had to wait until the early signing period, which began Nov. 11, to make it official.
She said New Mexico coach Jill Trujillo first talked with her at the U.S. Girls Junior Championship in New Jersey in July. Stevens also had previously won the Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament in June.
“I sent my resume there (to New Mexico),” Stevens said. “I love Jill Trujillo, the coach. She knew about me. She knew I won the Texas-Oklahoma and qualified for the U.S. Junior. At the U.S. Junior, she was there. That was the first time she saw me play. She showed interest in me. We were talking and about a week later she made an offer to me.”
Stevens went on an unofficial visit to New Mexico during the summer and went on an official visit in October, even though she had already committed to the school.
“When I was home over the summer I took an unofficial visit,” Sammi said. “I checked out the campus and everything. In October I went for my official visit. They fly you out there and you meet the team and everything. I loved it. It’s a great group of girls. Jill (Trujillo) is a Class A teaching professional. She knows her stuff.”
In addition to the coach and team and the chance to play Division I golf for a strong program, Stevens also was drawn to New Mexico because of the facilities for golfers.
“They’ve got like 15 courses there they can play,” she said. “Not many schools can say that. That’s a huge plus. I’ve played probably 10 of the 15. Every one of those golf courses I love. I couldn’t ask for more of the school I (signed with). They have all the facilities you can ever ask for.”
Stevens said she was in touch with other schools in case, for some reason, her deal with the University of New Mexico fell through.
“I talked to a lot of different schools,” Sammi said. “I took a couple of other unofficial visits. But UNM was my top choice. You’ve got to keep your options open. The recruiting process is really crazy. You never know what’s going to happen. But everything fell into place. It was great.”
Stevens said she is relishing her experience at the David Leadbetter Academy. Her year there, which includes intensive training in golf as well as attending high school classes, began in August and ends in June.
“I love it. It’s so great,” she said. “I’m so happy here. It’s an awesome experience. I’m working hard because my time here is limited. I’m just trying to get as good as I can while I’m here. I’m having a blast.”
Stevens, who plans to major in business at the University of New Mexico, said her ultimate goal is to earn a spot on the LPGA tour. She noted that one of New Mexico’s current golfers, senior Jodi Ewart, will play on the Futures Tour, which is like a mini LPGA tour. If she finishes the season in the top 10 on the Futures Tour, she will earn her tour card to compete in LPGA events.
Stevens is counting on the fact that her hard work will pay off.
“That’s what I want to do,” she said of her desire to play on the LPGA tour. “That’s the only reason I’m putting all this work in. It’s definitely going to be in the future. It will take a lot of work. It’s not going to be easy.
“There have been several people that have gone pro who went to UNM. I’m hoping to follow in their footsteps. Being at UNM, I’ll have access to everything I need to get there.”
In addition to her finish at the state meet last year, Stevens was a three-time district champion at Hereford, a two-time All-Region selection and also earned All-State honorable mention as a sophomore.