REEDSPORT — Monica Vaughn’s journey from youth golfer to NCAA Division I athlete became complete Friday when the Reedsport Community Charter School senior signed her letter of intent to compete for Arizona State University.
Surrounded by family, friends and her two high school coaches, Vaughn followed through on her earlier commitment to join the Sun Devils, one of the top progams in the country.
“I think it’s great,” said Stu Richardson, Reedsport’s girls golf coach. “It’s been a lot of hard work for her. What people don’t see is all the summer work she does.”
It’s the summer tournaments where Vaughn had her best successes. She won the state title her sophomore year for the Braves, but has a long list of victories in Oregon Golf Association and Oregon Junior Golf Association events. Two years ago, she was the junior golfer of the year in both Oregon and for the Pacific Northwest Golf Association.
Her success stretched to a number of junior events across the country, and it was at one of those — the Junior Americas Cup in Hawaii this summer — that she met Arizona State coach Melissa Luellen.
Vaughn finished sixth in that tournament and Luellen was impressed enough that she offered a scholarship and invited Vaughn to visit the campus in Tempe.
Vaughn also had offers from both San Diego State and Brigham Young University and visited them before making her trip to the desert. She was so impressed when she got to Arizona that she committed before coming home.
Because of that, Vaughn said she wasn’t nervous when she signed her letter of intent Friday.
“I’ve been waiting since I committed,” she said.
In addition to having great weather for golfing throughout the school year, Arizona State also has great facilities, including an on-campus golf course, and a strong program in communications, which Vaughn plans to study.
“I think Monica is going to a program that has great coaches, great facilities and a great tradition,” said Chris Vaughn, Monica’s father. “For that reason, we couldn’t be happier.”
Both Luellen and associate head coach Missy Farr-Kaye played for national championship teams — Luellen at Tulsa and Farr-Kaye for the Sun Devils. They also coached Arizona State to the NCAA title in 2009.
“They make you feel confident it’s the right place for her to be,” Chris Vaughn said.
Monica Vaughn will be back at ASU next month for the Arizona Silver Belles tournament, which is being played on the campus course.
She plans to tune up her skills this weekend, fresh off helping Reedsport place third at the Class 2A state volleyball tournament, where she was a first-team all-tournament selection for the second straight year.
“I haven’t touched the clubs too much,” she said.
Reedsport volleyball coach James Hixenbaugh was among the supporters who congratulated her Friday.
“That’s awesome,” said Hixenbaugh. “It’s the first athlete I’ve coached who went Division I. I’m happy for her. She put a lot of hard work in to be here.”
Vaughn is the second South Coast girl in recent years to compete for the Sun Devils. Former North Bend standout Kelcy McKenna had a stellar tennis career for Arizona State.
Lindsey Wright, a 2012 Reedsport graduate, also is in Arizona, competing in track and field for Grand Canyon University, a smaller school.
Madi Richardson, Vaughn’s teammate in both volleyball and golf, said she was thrilled for her classmate.
“I’m really happy and really proud,” she said. “Monica and I have been friends forever. It’s a big moment for her and for our community.”
Vaughn’s older sisters, Emily and Aubrey, both played golf for Portland State University.
Vaughn hopes to crack the varsity lineup next fall, though it won’t be easy. The Sun Devils, who started the year ranked No. 3, have six players on the squad now, all from out of the country and all sophomores or juniors.
“She will have to play in order to play with this team,” Chris Vaughn said. “It will be the first time in her life she has to play her best to be part of the team.”
Ultimately, Vaughn hopes to eventually become a professional golfer.
“ASU is a great program,” she said. “They definitely have the ability to get me there as long as I’m working strong.”
She also said she will keep her priorities in perspective, especially since her scholarship is worth $126,000 over four years — 90 percent of her expected college costs.
“I’m going to get the good education,” she said. “That’s first. It’s a great school.”