Not surprising, former Providence Christian standout Allison Howard was on the golf course practicing Tuesday afternoon when the interview request was made.
Golf is her focal point in sports, but her work academically is even more important.
The freshman this year at Samford University has excelled in both and Monday was named an All-American Scholar by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association.
To be eligible for All-American Scholar honors, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.50 grade-point average. Howard has a 3.51 GPA in communication studies at Samford.
“All of the sudden yesterday (Monday) my phone was being blown up by my coach, my teammates and everybody and I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ I thought there was a problem,” Howard said.
Instead, the messages were of congratulations for the honor Howard had received.
“I remember my teammates talking at the beginning of the fall season about how they all wanted to get that,” Howard remembers. “I didn’t expect to get it. I was really shocked.”
Howard was the Class 1A-3A individual state champion as a junior and finished runner-up as a senior to Providence teammate Lauren Thompson as the Eagles won their third straight state championship.
During her freshman season at Samford, which was cut short due to COVID-19, Howard played 18 rounds throughout the fall and spring seasons and posted a stroke average of 76.94.
She had one top-20 finish in her first collegiate season, tying for 16th out of 88 golfers in the Terrier Intercollegiate in Spartanburg, S.C. She also tied for 26th in the Lady Red Wolves Classic in Jonesboro, Ark.
“Definitely didn’t go as expected,” Howard said of her first college season. “I played pretty good for being a freshman, but everything started happening with the pandemic.
“We got to play two tournaments in the spring and we were all excited to come back from spring break to see each other and get back in the tournaments, then we started hearing about the pandemic. We were like, ‘Wait, that means we’re saying goodbye to our senior without seeing her at all.’”
Howard said it was a close-knit team comprised of three freshmen, a sophomore, a junior and a senior.
“I didn’t expect to be so close to them,” Howard said. “I just kind of expected us to be rooting for each other and whatever, but we’ve been so close. That’s been great.”
With the coronavirus pandemic causing the shutdown of in-person classes in mid-March across the country, Howard said it became even more challenging academically.
“It was hard as far as communication with the professors,” Howard said. “They tried their best to communicate as much as they can, and they did a great job with that, but it’s never going to be as good as being in person.”
Howard played her first tournament since March last week in the Alabama Women’s Stroke Play Championship in Calera and is scheduled to play next week in the Alabama Women’s State Amateur in Huntsville.
“I didn’t play all that great, but we haven’t played since the beginning of March competitively,” she said of the tournament last week. “So it was a rough start getting back into it, but other than that I have been practicing a lot on the range. Now I’m trying to get out and play a lot more to get ready for tournaments.”
Howard is excited about the upcoming season and is thankful for being named an All-American Scholar.
“I want to thank God and my teammates, my parents and all my friends,” Howard said. “All of the support system is very, very helpful for me to receive any award at all, or even being a student-athlete. Everybody has helped me to get to where I am.”