Photograph courtesy Richmond Athletics
Follow through

Elsa Diaz credits her father, a chiropractor, for the technical aspects of her swing. “He’s never wrong,” she said. 

When Elsa Diaz practices her swing, she’s thinking about her dad, but this story isn’t one of those feel-good, tug-at-your-heart tales of sentimental woe. Her dad’s a chiropractor. Years of treating patients with golf injuries has given him a lot of well-informed, highly technique-oriented ideas about how to swing a golf club properly, so he’s also his daughter’s swing coach.

Stand with your feet just so.

Bend your left knee this many degrees.

Torque this way, not that.

“It’s all about keeping a healthy body,” Diaz, a junior, said. “I don’t practice to repeat something. I practice to figure out what my dad is saying. ”

It’s paying dividends for her at the collegiate level. In February, she shot a 69 at the Edwin Watts Kiawah Island Classic in South Carolina, tying a Spider record for lowest round. Last spring, she and her team were Patriot League champions, earning the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament bid. They became two-time champions in 2017.

Diaz’s third year as a Spider has also been her head coach’s third year with the program. In 2016’s championship season, the Patriot League named Ali Wright its Coach of the Year, an accolade Diaz says only begins to hint at the impact Wright has on the team members as both players and people.

“I don’t know how Coach Wright has done it, but we all love her,” Diaz said. “We give it our all because she makes us want to. She fits exactly what this Richmond experience has been for me. I can’t imagine myself with another coach.”

Except, of course, her first coach, her dad back home in San Antonio. He and Wright talk often by phone to identify ways to improve her game, said Diaz, who hopes to play professionally. Longevity is already on her mind.

“My dad’s 52,” she said, “but he swings like a 16-year-old.”