Meet Victoria Vela

FAYETTEVILLE — Every year teams across the country welcoming new players to the rosters and the University of Arkansas women’s golf team is no exception.

One of those players for the 2009-10 season is Mansfield, Texas, native Victoria Vela.

Vela was Arkansas’ top finisher last week at the Tiger/Wave Classic in New Orleans, La., carding a 237 including a 69 in the final round finishing tied for 24th overall.

Vela, like most freshmen in most sports, is enjoying her college career but admits the transition and the changes have been a challenge.

“I’d have to say the biggest difference from high school or junior golf to college golf is the team aspect,” Vela noted. “I played mostly as an individual in high school because we didn’t have a team. I also think the level of competition is amazing. Every field is so deep. There are a lot of players who are really good and it’s much tougher than in high school or junior golf.”

Vela got an advanced look at her Razorback teammates joining several of them last summer at the 79th Women’s Trans National Golf Association Amateur Championship in Loudon, Tenn. Vela opened play with a 155 in stroke play finishing tied for 38th overall. She advanced to the match play portion of the tournament falling in the first round in her final event before college.

She has played in four events at Arkansas including all three spring competitions. Vela enters the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic next week with a 77.0 stroke average. She posted her best career-round as a Razorback with a 229 at the Kinderlou Forest Challenge.

“I think the biggest surprise for me is that I really took to college golf and life at the University a lot faster than I thought I would,” Vela said. “I felt very comfortable very quickly. I think that has a lot to do with the coaches and my teammates who are the greatest. I’ve grown a lot and everyone has made the transition very easy.”

As Vela’s career at Arkansas continues, she is looking forward to building on the strong foundation she and the coaching staff have already established. Although she is in just her fifth month on campus, Vela credits the staff and her teammates with making her a better player already.

“I’ve become a much better putter already,” Vela said. “I’ve really gotten a lot better. My full swing is much, much better as well. We spent a lot of time working on that in the fall and I’m starting to see the results of that this spring.”

Just a freshman, Victoria Kathryn Vela is the oldest of two children to Joe and Diana Vela of Mansfield, Texas. Vela has a younger brother, Troy, and is majoring in marketing at Arkansas.

“I’m not really sure what I want to do after graduation,” Vela said. “There are so many great opportunities here in Northwest Arkansas.”