WADSWORTH — Wadsworth native Alice Ho can’t wait to become a Saluki.
The Gazette MVP for girls golf was contacted by Southern Illinois in the summer. The Division I school wasn’t necessarily high on her list, but 31-year-old coach Alexis Mihelich talked Ho into making a visit.
The rest took care of itself, and Ho verbally accepted a full athletic scholarship that is worth nearly $35,000 per year.
“First, it has a really good dietetics program and the golf team is really building up to be really competitive and they really want to win,” Ho said. “I like the mentality of the coach and we really got along. I think I will fit in really well there.”
Long known for its unique mascot — a Persian greyhound, the royal dog of Egypt — Southern Illinois is considered one of the elite programs in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Salukis have seven conference crowns, but had to rebuild following a regional appearance in 2007. Mihelich’s squad has finished third in the MVC the last two seasons and won two of its five tournaments last fall.
Mihelich’s impressive offer to Ho — golfers don’t normally get full scholarships — is a strong indicator the three-time state tournament participant and 2012 D-I second-team All-Ohioan will compete for playing time.
“She just believes that I can play in the top five (right away),” said Ho, who also considered Ashland and Coker (S.C.). “Since it’s competitive, it makes me want to get even better.”
Ho is considered one the best players in Medina County history and holds every Wadsworth record imaginable. The 5-foot-5 right-hander was the mythical Suburban League MVP as a senior and her 38.9 career average ranks second to former Highland star and current Ohio State University freshman Jessica Porvasnik.
Southern Illinois also got Ho’s attention with a custom-built indoor facility at its home course, Hickory Ridge. The Salukis’ alternate course is the Jack Nicklaus-desgined Dalhousie Golf Club, which is consistently ranked the No. 1 layout in Illinois.
“I still haven’t put it in my head yet since I’m still a senior,” Ho said of being a collegiate athlete. “I think it will hit me when I actually go and I’m on my own and away from my family. I’m excited to be a college golfer.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.