The George Mason University team's Cinderella season had a disappointing ending this year.
The Fairfax school, whose athletic program enjoys an impressive number of victories per dollar spent, won the Virginia stat Division II golf championship and the Mason-Dixon Conference championship while stroking to a regular season record of 12 wins, 3 losses. But the team did not receive a bid to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association post-season tournament.
"The tournament committee called me and explained that they didn't feel we had played in enough tournaments," says golf coach Mickey Reimann. "Most schools going to the NCAA have played in about 13 tournaments this year. We only played in three, but we won two of them."
Reimann notes that in the past, Pennsylvania schools have dominated the choices for NCAA competition and they did again this year with the University of Indiana of Pennsylvania and Edinboro College receiving bids over George Mason.
"The NCAA selection committee was made up of four coaches from our district, and all of them were from Pennsylvania," Reimann says. "When I heard that, I was concerned we wouldn't even be considered. But after they called to explain why we weren't selected, I was confident we were seriously considered."
The team will compete in the smaller, less prestigious, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics tournament in June, but Reimann is already busy planning on how to attract the NCAA next year. He is planning to have the team, which will lose its top golfer, Tim Vigotsky, to graduation but will have three freshmen standouts (Bill Holmes, Robert Harwick and Gray Hamilton) returning, compete in "at least five tournments."
"I want to get us in a Pennsylvania tournament so we'll get direct compeittion with the Pennsylvania schools," says Reimann, who hopes to beef up his future teams by recruiting transfers and area high school golfers. Reimann's "top choice" of high school golfers is Tony Milam of GarField High School in Dumfries.
But Reimann faces recruiting problems despite his team's impressive 23-5 record in two years.
"We have a very limited number of scholarships to offer," Reimann explains. "Last year we had one, which we broke into two half scholarships. For the next school year, we have half a scholarship."
Reimann also must operate on a $2,500 budget which, he says, "I must use wisely."
What George Mason can offer is a winning team and comraderie.
Reimann's band of merry golfers travels to away matches in a George Mason University van that the coach drives. Reimann admits that, when playing at unfamiliar courses, "out in the woods" he occasionally gets lost which, he sadly notes, "helps break our concentration."
Team members are provided $7.50 per person for meals on road trips, but they must purchase their own clubs and shoes. The school provides the golf balls.
Since George Mason doesn't have it own golf course, the team practices at Fairfax Country Club, where its home matches are played, or Woodlawn Country Club in Alexandria.
"Fortunately," Reimann says, "a lot of the golfers on the team are members of area country clubs and they can practice on their own. If we had to pay every time we used a course, we wouldn't be able to afford much of a schedule."
Reimann's not greatly bothered by such problems, noting that "some of these challenges have helped pull us together."
Next year, he hopes they'll pull his team to the NCAA tournament.