Yupha Muzyka enjoys growing organic tomatoes for Alvernia head coach Tom O’Connell in her garden. It’s just one of the many ways Muzyka stands apart among college golfers. For starters, she has a garden and lives at home with her husband and two children. She’s also 39 years old.
Muzyka will occasionally playfully inquire as to why O’Connell enjoys informing opponents of her age.
“Because beating them is fun,” O’Connell responds.
McKylie Boreman, an Alvernia student, first learned Muzyka’s true age a few weeks ago. Boreman, like the rest of us, was taken aback.
Boreman praised Muzyka’s ability to blend in among players 20 years younger, saying, “She makes it appear effortless.”
Reading, Pennsylvania’s Alvernia University is a Division III Catholic university. Muzyka’s adventure began in Thailand, where she was born, and continued on to Singapore, where she met her future husband Steve while visiting her sister.
Muzyka moved to America shortly after graduating from high school and was introduced to golf by Steve, a 12-handicapper and engineer. They began with miniature golf before moving on to Pleasant Hill Golf Course in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, a beginner-friendly course that is no longer in operation.
“He put a club in my hand and taught me how to swing,” Muzyka explained. “I took my first shot at it and beat him to it.” ‘Oh, OK,’ he said.
Steve joked a year later that he’d created a monster. Every time the duo teed it up, Muzyka beat him.
Muzyka had always planned to return to school, and she did so not long after arriving in the United States. However, when her English wasn’t good enough to understand the professor at a community college, she felt quite frustrated. She chose to take a sabbatical, but then she became pregnant with Alexis, who is now 16 years old, and had to extend her break even more. Allison, her youngest daughter, is now in sixth grade.
As the daughters grew older, Muzyka decided it was time to return to school and complete her business degree. She eventually found herself in the Alvernia admissions office, filling out an application form.
Steve encouraged her to go back and check yes when she skipped the line asking if there was any interest in playing sports.
She remarked, “I said no, I’m too old.”
Steve was adamant.
As the admissions counselor went over the application, he inquired about Muzyka’s desire to participate in sports. Steve used the occasion to brag about his wife’s amateur career, boasting about her four county championships and the Women’s Central Penn Golf Association championship.
By the time Muzyka arrived home, O’Connell was phoning from his beach vacation on the other end of her phone line.
“Aren’t I a little too old to be a collegiate athlete?” she enquired.
Muzyka is in her fourth year on the Alvernia team and works as a graduate assistant in the school’s business finance trading lab. She is four classes away from obtaining her MBA. She has a 3.9 GPA and speaks three languages.
“She’s never missed a game,” O’Connell added. “She just can’t seem to get enough of it.”
Muzyka was concerned that she would end up feeling like a third wheel. That, however, never happened. Muzyka is a dedicated worker who, according to O’Connell, is in better shape than anyone on the team. She won two of her first three events in college and was named First-Team All-Conference as a freshman.
Boreman will inquire about practice drills and classes with Muzyka. Muzyka has a TikTok account and is deeply immersed in van chats. Muzyka’s sense of humor triumphs even when something gets lost in translation.
Boreman stated, “I wouldn’t even say she acts like a parent to the squad.” “She’s practically one of us,” says the narrator.
Alvernia won four consecutive tournaments last fall, with Muzyka winning the final tournament of the semester for her sixth career victory. Muzyka is hoping for a steady spring season in her final year at Alvernia.
The Middle Atlantic Conference Championship is being held this year at Golden Oaks Golf Club in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, which she is familiar with. She wants to go under 75 in both rounds. To the very end, there are high expectations.
“It turned out better than I could have hoped,” O’Connell stated.
Muzyka, on the other hand, would have to agree.
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