Oct. 6, 2009


By Amy Farnum

Playing golf for the Lynn University women’s team is like taking a class in cultural diversity.

The eight golfers on the squad’s roster each hail from different nations, giving the team a unique perspective on the sport and life.  

The roster includes women from five different continents, and only one American player:  Gabriela Canals (Domincan Republic), Manavi Halwasiya (India), Rebecca Mangone (USA), Anne van den Bosch (the Netherlands), Maha Haddioui (Morocco), Thalia Baigorria (Peru), Nichapat Kongpaisarnnatee (Thailand) and Donia Scarello (Egypt).

While international players are common in the sport of golf, head coach Courtney Bibby says she was not trying to put together such a diverse group, it just happened.

“We try to recruit top golfers around the country and internationally, as well,” said Bibby.  “A lot of the girls knew someone that they played golf with in the past.”

As the only American on the roster, Mangone is soaking up different languages and cultural traditions from her teammates.

“Before I came to Lynn, I was in New Hampshire and it was not very diverse,” said Mangone.  “So, meeting all of these new people and being at Lynn where there are so many countries represented, it’s a learning experience. We have a lot of fun together just teaching each other different things.”

Mangone, in turn, helps teach the other players like Haddioui how to sound more American, and explains different phrases.
“Every phrase I would say last weekend, Donia would ask me what it meant,” said Mangone.  “She said she wished she had a notebook so she could write down the American terms because she doesn’t know what they mean and I hear people see them.   They all speak very good English, but a lot of our American slang, they don’t understand.”

Most of Lynn’s golfers had been to the United States or visited Lynn before attending school, but some like Haddioui came to the country and campus sight unseen.  She was pleasantly surprised with not only the school, but the diversity of the team.

“When I first came to Lynn, I thought I would be on the team with a lot of Americans, and I would be the foreign one and I would be the different one,” said Haddioui.  “Since everybody is foreign, you don’t really feel left out because we all share the fact we’re not from here and we help each other out.”

Haddioui, a senior who earned Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year in 2007 after leading Division II with a 75.39 stroke average, is also enjoying the team aspect of golf.

“Back home in Morocco you cannot really study and compete in sports at the same time because there are no schools there that do this,” said Haddioui.  “When I played in tournaments before I would be by myself.  Now, I’m with a team, so we have more fun.”

Bibby has learned some interesting facts from her players, like goats climb trees in Morocco and camels drink Pepsi, and she is thoroughly enjoying the mix of women as the Fighting Knights look to return to the NCAA Championship.

“I have a lot of information that can be used as good conversational stories,” said Bibby.  “The girls have taught me a lot about their cultures and the diversity amongst them, and how it can be an asset to our program.  Different people from different backgrounds can along well without having any similarities other than the sport of golf.”

Lynn resumes fall golf action on Oct. 12-13 as the Fighting Knights visit defending NCAA champion Nova Southeastern for the NSU Shark Invitational in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.