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Bruins in Paris

Coach Alicia Um Holmes uplifts UCLA women’s golf with ‘progress over results’

Coach Alicia Um Holmes takes a look at the course. (Joseph Crosby/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Joseph Crosby

May 23, 2024 12:44 p.m.

This post was updated May 24 at 1:50 a.m.

CARLSBAD – Alicia Um Holmes gathered her team steps away from the 16th tee box.

Whispered words in the privacy of a team huddle can only be inferred – consolation after a narrow loss in the national championship, reminders of a season that featured four team and individual wins, repetition of a phrase that embodied the first-year head coach’s approach.

“I feel like a broken record, but it’s really progress over results,” Um Holmes said.

Yet for the Bruins, the 2023-2024 campaign could also be titled “Progress and Results” – even if it didn’t end with new hardware.

UCLA women’s golf completed its season Wednesday at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California, falling to Stanford in the match play finals of the NCAA championships. As the season progressed, results came easy – only thrice did the Bruins finish outside the top five in a stroke play event, and one of those instances was this week, where a top-eight finish was enough to secure a match play bid.

Caroline Canales described the season’s end as bittersweet. But as the junior and her teammates grappled with the heartbreak of a lost championship, Um Holmes was heard trying to lift them up.

“Happy tears,” she said before one of many embraces with her players.

The upbeat coach didn’t want her team to dwell on the final result. Playing seven rounds of golf in six days, the Bruins beat out 22 other teams to advance to match play then won twice en route to the finals.

“You lose a match like this, and Alicia’s like, ‘Oh well, it’s OK. We’re fine,’” said Carrie Forsyth, who led the program for 24 years before her retirement in 2023. “She’s a very steady, even-keel person, and in this sport, I think that’s a real positive.”

After the team huddle, Um Holmes walked up the downward-sloping hill separating the resort from the course. She addressed the contingent of family and fans who made the trip to Carlsbad – including athletic director Martin Jarmond and members of UCLA’s men’s golf – and led them in an 8-clap.

Minutes later, she gathered that same group for a picture, standing front and center with arms around assistant coach Erynne Yoo and junior Zoe Antoinette Campos.

The group posed – smiles only – then dissipated. But even as the group began to scatter, Um Holmes wanted another picture, imploring the crowd to do the 4s up symbol.

The second attempt never came to fruition, but the idea behind it was the same as it had been all season – “progress over results.”

“The other thing is just enjoying this moment, enjoying the time, enjoying practices, trying to make it fun,” Um Holmes said. “Because if it’s fun, you want to do it more.”

The messages have sunk in. Canales said the focus on fun and commitment – not results – has become part of the team’s identity and is what she plans to carry into next season. Campos said Um Holmes has been a pillar to lean on.

“She just wants the best for us, wants us to be organized, wants us to prioritize ourselves,” Campos said. “I feel like the past couple years that I’ve been here, I’ve felt a little like I was a bit on my own and kind of just cruising. But with her, I think we get a lot more support.”

Book one of Um Holmes’ Bruin tenure was written in her five years as a player. The assistant coaching sequel – which concluded last season – was 17 chapters long.

The third installment in the saga has just begun and ended pages away from that same national championship peak she summited in 2011.

Chapter two of the newest volume is blank. But the soon-to-be second-year coach has the tools to continue scripting her most compelling story yet.

“I think I just hit the jackpot,” Um Holmes said. “I’m really lucky.”

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Joseph Crosby
Crosby was the 2023-2024 Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and NIL beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats.
Crosby was the 2023-2024 Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and NIL beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats.
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