Iowa women's golfer Phillips valuable in recruiting

BY ALEX FRENCH | APRIL 03, 2012 6:30 AM

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Shelby Phillips isn't a coach.

But the Iowa women's golfer from Arizona has played the role of scout since arriving in Iowa City.

She has tried to persuade friends and past competitors from the Southwest to join the Hawkeye ranks. Her most recent target, Alexa Schendelman, came to scope out Iowa in the fall. Although Phillips' former teammate at Highland High eventually signed with Oregon State, Phillips said she used tactics on Schendelman that persuaded her to visit Iowa City.

"I told her it's a total different world from Arizona, but it's worth a try," she said. "I think she liked it, but we're really good friends — we kind of wanted to go our separate ways."

Phillips, a freshman, won PGA Junior Series Player of the Year honors in 2007 and 2009 while residing in Gilbert, Ariz. She was runner-up for the same award in 2008 and 2010 and was ranked the No. 2 player in Arizona and the 56th-best prospect in the class of 2011 coming out of high school.

Her time spent as a junior player in Arizona is helpful when it comes to searching for talent, former Hawkeye and first-year assistant coach Laura Cilek said.

"It definitely helps when [athletes] have ties to Arizona and junior players," she said. "Shelby knows a lot of them, and I think a lot of [the junior players] look up to Shelby. They will definitely see her have some success here, and that's a big draw for us."

Phillips competed in four tournaments in the fall, her first season as a Hawkeye. Her best finish in the fall was a tie for 33rd at the Chip-N Club Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. Her spring season has been better; the Saluki Invitational on March 25-26 ended with Phillips in a tie for 24th with a 15-over 159.

Cilek said the coaching staff is limited in its ability to initiate contact with potential recruits because of NCAA regulations.

"Any solicitation of prospective student-athletes or their parents by an institutional staff member … for the purpose of securing a prospect's enrollment and ultimate participation in the institution's intercollegiate athletics program" is forbidden until after the athlete completes her or his junior year of high school, according to the NCAA.

The coaches can talk to recruits who contact them first, though, and Cilek said similar rules apply for current college student-athletes.

"We can't tell our girls to contact them, but if they [get in touch] with our girls, they can certainly talk to them about [coming to Iowa]," she said. "Our girls are always promoting the university because that's where they go to school, and they're part of the program."

Phillips is no coach, but her ties back home are — and will continue to be — beneficial in recruiting, Cilek said.

The first-year Hawkeye golfer said the coaching staff sometimes approaches her to share her knowledge of both the Junior PGA and its members.

"I knew a lot of junior golfers because I traveled so much," she said. "But [head coach Megan Menzel] only asks about how their family is, how they are as a person behind the golf-screen."

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