June 5, 2000
Two days after the 2000 Pac-10 Women's Golf Championships in April, longtime friends and teammates Jennifer Dodd and Jenny Ballou sat down and reflected on their college careers. Despite tremendous success for both of them, on and off the course, there was still something missing.
Dodd, a junior, closed out the regular season with back-to-back career performances. The first came at the Stanford-hosted Peg Barnard California Collegiate. The Business Marketing major fired a four-over par 148, including a first round 72, and placed fourth in a tournament full of top-flight players.
"That performance was spectacular," WSU head coach Walt Williams said. "We were playing against two of the top five teams in the nation and she beat six players in the top 50. That was really big for her and I think it will pay dividends down the road."
The Portland, Ore., native followed that up by placing 10th at the Pac-10 Championships, the highest finish by a Cougar woman in WSU history. She was rewarded by being named Honorable Mention All-Pac-10, no small feat considering 14 of the top 50 women's players in the nation call the "Conference of Champions" home. But there was still something missing.
Ballou, who received a bachelor's degree in Marketing in May 1999 and began work on a master's degree in Finance last August, captained the golf team this year and was second in scoring average at 78.5, just behind Dodd. Her biggest achievement, however, was being named to the Academic All-American team last season, thanks to a 3.59 grade point average and her consistent play.
"She is working on graduate school and captaining the golf team," Williams said. "She is a tremendous example to the other kids as far as work ethic and discipline and doing the things that are required of a student-athlete at this level."
Many athletes would be content with these type of individual accolades, but Ballou, who is also a native of Portland, Ore., and Dodd had one more goal in mind, taking Washington State's women's golf team to the postseason for the first time since the program's inception in 1983. That was the "missing link" in each of their careers.
May 1, the two Oregonians were rewarded when Washington State was selected to play in the NCAA West Regional in Tempe, Ariz.
Both agree that the 1999-2000 season has been the highlight of their careers, but as it draws to a close, it marks the end of Ballou's WSU career, something teammate, roommate, and friend Dodd isn't looking forward to.
"She's like my big sister," Dodd said. "She is my best friend at school. I will miss talking to her. I don't know how well I am going to handle the leadership responsibilities, but I will try my hardest to follow in her footsteps."
"I could say things to her that I probably couldn't say to other people and the same goes for her," Ballou, who toured Asia with a group of Pac-10 all-stars last summer, added. "She has always been a really good friend. She is like my little sister."
The duo met on the golf course while in high school. Ballou earned seven varsity letters in golf and volleyball at David Douglas High, while Dodd helped Central Catholic High to three state titles in golf and was named first team All-State her junior and senior year.
They didn't know each other well until Dodd arrived in Pullman as a freshman in 1997, though Ballou may have unknowingly helped recruit her future roommate.
"It was funny because when I was going through recruiting and sending all my letters out, my parents were like, ?You have got to send one to Washington State, don't you remember that Jenny Ballou that played at David Douglas? She was so nice, you should go up there'", Dodd recalled. "So I came up here and we hit it off and have been close friends ever since."
On the course, they went through two tough years together as coaching changes and personality conflicts affected the chemistry of the team.
"I have been through six different coaches between assistants and head coaches," Ballou, who came to WSU in 1995, said. "Stability is a huge issue for being competitive.
"We weren't as competitive last year but I think we had quite a bit of talent but personality conflicts caused that more than anything. Coach Williams is trying to get people in that everybody will get along with and people that won't cause those problems anymore and I think that makes a difference."
Sophomore Tasha Browner and true freshmen Donna Bell and Shanelle Roberts were that difference this year, as the Cougars twice broke the school record for a 54-hole tournament, finally bringing the standard to an even 300.
The regular season ended with a 10th place finish at the conference tournament, but that disappointment quickly turned to joy when WSU was selected for the West Regional. The Cougars, who entered the postseason ranked 49th in the nation, edged out Hawai'i for the final spot in the Far West District.
The West Regional will likely mark the last time Ballou and Dodd play together as Cougars.
"I will miss her but I am happy for Jen to be able to go on and do something she is happy doing," Dodd said.
Ballou is moving on in more ways than one. The outspoken, unquestioned Cougar captain is taking a job as the Assistant Golf Professional at the brand new Camas Meadows, near Vancouver. The biggest move will take place July 15 when she will marry Gerald Deuce, a fellow Washington State graduate who Ballou claims has to cheat to beat her in golf. Ever the teammate, Dodd will be right alongside as one of the bridesmaids at the Persimmon Country Club in Gresham, Ore., a course where the two both held down jobs in the past.
Even with her "big sister" and playing partner gone next year, Dodd thinks things are looking up for Cougar golf. With the young nucleus from this year's NCAA West Regional team back next year, school records may fall again. But a trip to the postseason, long the monkey on her back, might not be the same with Ballou missing.