Success breeds success as the East Tennessee State women’s golf team continues its ascent among the elite women’s golf programs in the nation. During her previous nine years at ETSU, head coach Stefanie Shelton has progressively taken the Lady Bucs to levels of success never before seen in the history of the ETSU women’s
Overall, Shelton’s teams have won nine tournament titles in her nine seasons at ETSU and have finished in the Top 10 in 69 of 80 events, including 52 Top 5 showings. In 2011-12, Shelton also guided her players to individual success, as two Buccaneers earned first-team, all-conference honors – and freshman Gabrielle Wahl earned won back-to-back individual titles and a trip to the NCAA Regionals.
In fact, Wahl's trip to the NCAAs marked the third-straight year an ETSU player has competed in the national championship, as former ETSU standout Nina Muehl made back-to-back appearances in the 2010 and 2011 regionals.In that 2010 appearance, Muehl posted the nation's lowest single round score at the Division I level and advanced beyond the regionals and into the finals of the NCAA Championship.
In 2009-10, the Buccaneers collected the program’s highest-ever national ranking at the end of the year (45th) and enjoyed their first-ever, at-large bid to the NCAA regionals. ETSU won one team title that season at the Palmetto Intercollegiate, and Muehl became the first ETSU woman to ever participate in the NCAA Championships, earning her spot in that tournament by finishing tied for fourth in the NCAA East Regional.
In 2008-09, the Buccaneers finished the year ranked 47th nationally by Golfstat.com, the highest such national ranking in program history at that time. In addition, the year also included two more team championships for the squad, as ETSU captured titles in the Sea Trail Women’s Invitational and UNCW Lady Seahawk Invitational. Those successes came on the heels of a historic 2007-08 season in which the Bucs captured their first conference championship ever and made the team’s first trip to NCAA postseason play. In winning the 2008 Atlantic Sun Conference team championship, the squad also captured its first ever conference individual championship, as sophomore Laura Jansone took home that honor. The league title was ETSU’s second team championship of that year, as the squad also won the South Alabama Lady Jaguar Invitational trophy as well.
Indeed, the record books have been rewritten in recent years, as Shelton has helped several Lady Bucs reach personal bests both in stroke average and individual round play, plus the team has set new program records in every team category. In addition, she has coached 10 first-team all-conference selections, nine second-team all-conference selections, and three freshman-of-the-year recipients in 2004-05, 2006-07 and 2010-11. In fact, for her efforts during the 2004-05 season, Shelton was named the Southern Conference Coach of the Year, and she earned the same honor in both 2006-07 and 2007-08 from the Atlantic Sun Conference.
In addition to the continued success on the golf course, the team has excelled in the classroom, maintaining a 3.57 cumulative GPA in 2008-09, and placing it in the top 25 in the country.
Shelton came to ETSU from Texas Christian University where she was the assistant women’s golf coach during the 2001-02 season. While with the Horned Frogs, she assisted with all aspects of the team, including coaching, recruiting, practice organization and conducting the first Horned Frog golf camp.
A 2001 graduate of the University of South Carolina with a double major in entrepreneurial management and marketing, Shelton was a three-year member of the women’s golf team at South Carolina where she was an Academic All-American, as well as making the SEC Scholar Athlete Honor Roll every year. Before playing at South Carolina, Shelton played for a year at Wake Forest University, redshirting her freshman year. An exceptional student, Shelton made the dean’s list in each of her seasons at South Carolina, graduating cum laude in her majors. Shelton minored in Sports Administration. She has begun work toward a master’s degree in Sports Psychology at ETSU.
Shelton was also involved with helping manage a golf school, the Hartefeld National Golf School, working with that program for four years. There she assisted PGA professionals with instruction of adults, collegians and juniors. Shelton was a member of the National Golf Coaches Association Strategic Development Committee, as well as a charter member and “Education Chair” of the Tri-Cities Executive Women’s Golf Association. She also served as a columnist for Golf Journeys magazine.
In addition to her academic and athletic exploits, Shelton also has a long history of community service. At ETSU, Shelton has stressed community involvement and has directed her players to help in several “giving back” activities, such as participating in Special Olympics, Communities in Schools, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Families First, Appalachian Christian Village and Woodridge Hospital. She was also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Athletes Care Team while at Wake Forest. At South Carolina, she participated in Team Gamecock Habitat for Humanity Harvest Hope and was a big sister for a third grader in 1999. As a player, Shelton was the youngest Delaware Amateur Champion at age 16, held many titles as a junior golfer traveling throughout the nation, and set two course records. She was a co-captain her senior year at South Carolina and was ranked second in the nation in “short game.” She competed in Regional Championships every year and competed with her team for a National Championship title three times.
Shelton and her husband David reside in Fall Branch, Tenn. They have one child, a son named Dalton Ryan.