North Texas Daily

Women’s golf at a disconnect between coach and players

Women’s golf at a disconnect between coach and players

March 10
01:00 2016

Austin Jackson | Staff Writer


As interim women’s golf coach Barry Niemann looks to replace his interim tag with a more permanent one, the Athletic Department is taking steps to move on.

Athletic Director Rick Villarreal confirmed Monday the athletics department plans to begin evaluating its list of candidates for the women’s head coaching job by mid-March.

“We’re beginning to go down that road,” Villarreal said. “We want to do what’s best for the girls and what’s best for the program.”

Villarreal said he will look at the collegiate and high school level for a candidate that can grow with the program. He said the position is an attractive one, considering the program’s top of the line facilities, transportation and future home course at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton.

The position opened in late August after former coach Jeff Mitchell resigned due to family reasons. Villarreal named North Texas assistant Barry Niemann as interim coach for the 2015-2016 season, citing Niemann’s experience assisting both Mitchell and men’s Coach Brad Stracke over the past three years, as well as his relationship with current players.

“We took the best option with the resources available,” Villarreal said. “When we put the interim tag on Barry, we told him it was an interim job.”

Villarreal said he welcomes Niemann to apply for the full-time position, but Niemann said he is unsure what his status is with the program or how they are evaluating him going forward. While excited about his future with the team, Niemann said he is expecting a promotion before the end of this summer.

“I’m assuming I’m going to be here,” Niemann said. “We have two recruits who are going to be with us next fall. I’m looking toward 2017 and beyond.”

North Texas interm golf coach Barry Niemann took over the head coaching position last fall. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Interim golf coach Barry Niemann took over the head coaching position last fall. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

However, some players on the team do not share Niemann’s sentiments and said they’ve had problems with his lack of involvement with the team. On Monday, three of four players interviewed voiced problems with Coach Niemann but all requested to remain anonymous.

One source said Coach Niemann is a good guy and a good assistant, but was a bad head coach. She said her play suffered this season because Coach Niemann hasn’t offered to help her in the same capacity as Coach Mitchell.

The second said although she thinks Coach Niemann is a nice man, she was disappointed in the coaching after arriving to North Texas. She wanted to grow as a player and hoped to receive insight that could take her game to the next level, but once Mitchell resigned she realized she wasn’t going to get that knowledge here.

The third player struggled to find anything positive to say about the coach, saying only that he feeds them well and was a good driver. She said she doesn’t think Coach Niemann actually wants to make the team better and is uncertain whether it was because of his lack of knowledge or just because he didn’t care.

Villarreal began monitoring the situation after players came by his office raising concerns in January and said he has encouraged players to stay patient and work together as a team through the process.

“My door is always open. Coach’s door is always open,” Villarreal said. “I’ve had a few players come by to visit, and I listened to what they had to say.”

But not all players are in the opposite corner of Niemann. Sophomore Nyca Khaw said she appreciates the job Niemann has done and felt comfortable when he stayed following Mitchell’s departure. Khaw said without Coach Niemann, the team wouldn’t be able to travel and compete in tournaments.

“He’s trying his best. It’s not easy to be a head coach and take over nine girls at once,” Khaw said. “He’s a really good assistant. He’s an interim coach, so he’s doing what he’s supposed to do. I don’t think there’s a problem right now.”

Khaw said if there is a problem, the team’s lack of communication is the root of it.

“I just think he doesn’t know,” Khaw said. “It’s both ways. He needs to listen to our opinions, and we have to compromise. I don’t know why they’re not happy sometimes. I don’t really have any complaints.”

Niemann said he is currently changing up the tournament schedule for the fall season and hitting the recruiting trail with the assumption the job is his. Niemann said working as an assistant at three other schools before his three years at North Texas has helped him coach the team, and that his relationship with the players just made the transition easier.

“It’s been real easy to bond with them,” Niemann said. “It’s just been an easy experience for me. I hope to continue for a number of years. This is home to us. We’re looking to retire in Texas.”

Featured Image: Interim golf coach Barry Niemann talk with sophomore golfer Nyca Khaw during practice. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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