Rhoades Officially Inks First Recruiting Class

Feb. 26, 2011

CHICAGO - UIC head women's golf coach Carol Rhoades announced the Flames' first-ever recruiting class Friday, a five-player group that will help lead the newly adopted program into the future. The Flames will begin their first-year of competition next fall.

The five newest additions to the Flames' program are Kayla Stueland (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis College Prep), Elizabeth Curtiss (Byron, Ill./Byron), Casey Hahn (Barrington, Ill./Barrington), Cherise Mangal (Naperville, Ill./Waubonsie Valley) and Lindsay Purpura (Countryside, Ill./Lyons Township).

"We got a bit of a late start in the recruiting process, because it was not announced that UIC would have a women's golf team until about August 15," said Rhoades. "I then met with our administration, and decided what particular characteristics we were looking for in our first recruiting class.

"I started talking to a lot of golf professionals in the area, and decided on what potential recruits we should target based on those criteria. We were able to sign a few, and really had more success in our first year of recruiting than I thought we would. I was looking for an up-hill road; I still think it is an uphill process, but our expectations have been far exceeded, and I'm really excited about this class leading UIC women's golf into the short and long-term future."

Stueland was the first verbal commitment that Rhoades received after taking over the head coaching job on August 6, 2010. The 5-foot-6 Stueland starred as St. Francis' No. 1 player all four years of high school, leading the Spartans to the school's first two sectional berths in her freshman and sophomore seasons.

One of the most established players in St. Francis history, Stueland earned three trips to the state tournament, including one top-10 finish. She was also the first player in school history to win regionals, and finish as a runner-up in the sectional tournament. Stueland chalked up All-Area honors in her final three seasons, and was named the Kane County Chronicle Player of the Year following her sophomore campaign. Stueland plans on majoring in Communications.

Curtiss captured the 2010 Class 1A state championship, shooting a two-round total of 156 (81-75) in the state tournament. She also made trips to state in both 2008 and 2009. Curtiss, who stands 5-foot-7, led Byron High School to a seventh-place team finish at the 2010 state tournament in the school's first-ever trip to the event. Byron also recorded a second-place finish in the Big Northern Conference, won the regional championship and took third in the sectional tournament.

Curtiss was an all-conference selection in both her junior and senior years, while also earning Most Valuable Player honors in her final three seasons. The two-time team captain was the first player in school history to win an individual state championship, and broke every record for Byron High School girls' golf, including a nine-hole average of 39 as a senior. Curtiss will pursue either psychology or pre-law at UIC.

Hahn led Barrington High School to a myriad of team honors, including a Mid-Suburban League (MSL) and sectional championships in 2007. Byron also finished eighth place at the state tournament that season. In Hahn's final three campaigns (2008-10), the Broncos won their division of the MSL, and won the team regional title.

The 5-foot-6 Hahn was an all-conference and all-area performer in her senior season, and also has extensive experience playing national events on the junior golf circuit. She intends on majoring in nursing.

Mangal led Waubonsie Valley to the 2010 regional championship, while also qualifying for the state tournament as an individual. She is also a three-time All-Conference selection and four-time All-Academic honoree. The 5-foot-5 Mangal earned MVP honors at Waubonsie Valley in her final three seasons, and qualified for sectionals twice. She is intending on pursuing her bachelor's degree in health information management at UIC.

Purpura was a two-sport standout at Lyons Township, also lettering in badminton, where she was a 2010 state qualifier. On the links, the 5-foot-5 Purpura led "LT" to a regional championship, and a tenth place finish at the state tournament. Individually, she served as a co-captain as a senior, and a tenth-place individual finish at the sectional championships. Purpura plans on majoring in engineering.

"We're very encouraged with what these young women bring to the table," added Rhoades. "Our expectations are high, on behalf of the players, me and our athletic department. There is only one opportunity to be the first class (for a new program). We stressed the importance of that during the recruiting process. They are going to built a foundation, and in 15-20 years, realize that they set the bar and helped instill the successful tradition of UIC women's golf."