Bringing the Lessons from Ann Arbor Back to Brussels



By Jake Freed

When she’s not rewriting the University of Michigan women’s golf record book, Elodie Van Dievoet can be found hitting the books in a classroom or library, ensuring her role as a student always comes first.

Van Dievoet has a list of athletic accomplishments that speak for themselves. Most notably, she sank an 18-foot putt on the final hole of the 2017 NCAA Regional in Columbus, Ohio, to send the Wolverines to the NCAA Finals for the second consecutive year.

She also holds numerous school records, everything ranging from lowest season scoring average (73.09, 2016-17) to highest NCAA postseason individual finish (tie-4th, 2017 NCAA Championships). But beyond all she does on the course, she has excelled in the classroom and is on track to graduate this spring with degrees in both economics and international studies.

Despite her obvious talent, Van Dievoet wasn’t always sure that playing collegiate golf in America was the right choice for her.

“At first I never even really considered coming to America. I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to play that much golf after high school,” she said last week at Weisfeld Family Golf Center.

Ultimately, a friend put her in contact with U-M head coach Jan Dowling, who became interested in Van Dievoet immediately upon seeing her swing.

According to Van Dievoet, who is from Belgium, the interest was mutual between her and the Maize and Blue right from the start.

“Michigan is the only school I visited, because once I saw the campus I realized right away that I would really love to be here,” she said. “I didn’t even visit any of the other schools that were interested. I really thought everything from the facilities to the staff here was amazing.”

Elodie Van Dievoet

Like so many others, she was drawn to U-M because of its reputation for strong academics. Van Dievoet’s mother, Florence Descampe, was a successful LPGA golfer who turned pro before she was 20 years old. She also instilled the importance of academics to Elodie very early on in her life.

“She always said she regretted not having an education and a chance to study, since she began playing professionally so early,” Van Dievoet said of her mother. “So she always pushed me much more on the academic side more so than she did with athletics.”

Van Dievoet learned to speak English at age 14 when she began traveling around the world to compete in tournaments. But transitioning to taking all of her classes in English was definitely a big adjustment.

“I understood English well,” she explained, “but it was a bit of struggle to speak up in class at the beginning, just because I felt I couldn’t fully explain my thoughts properly. But after a year, I really noticed a change and realized how much easier it was than before.”

When it came time to declare her major, Van Dievoet decided to go down a difficult path for any student, let alone a student-athlete with extreme time commitments devoted to training and competing in matches and tournaments.

“I was always interested in economics,” she said. “I took some economics classes in high school that I really loved. For international studies, one important thing for me was also to find a major that I could go home with. Not all diplomas translate the same way back home, so that was another part that interested me.”

Managing her time and making sacrifices has been crucial for Van Dievoet to succeed in both the classroom and on the golf course. She admitted that some nights she gets only a few hours of sleep in order to complete her assignments and properly study after long days of practices or matches.

“It’s hard in the beginning because you’re not used to it, but it gets easier, and once I got used to it, the challenge of completing everything I needed to do became more fun.”

Once she graduates, Van Dievoet’s golf career will likely come to an end, a decision she’s comfortable with.

“I thought about playing golf professionally very briefly, but it was never really a goal of mine. I’m trying to find a job in the consulting sector back home in Brussels. I really want to do something where I interact with different people regularly. I’m also considering completing a graduate degree back home.”

Whatever she ends up doing, the lessons she’s learned from her time at Michigan will stretch long into the future, and she is bound to succeed no matter how big or small the task may be.

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