By Curtis Acosta
Arizona Daily Wildcat
When Kim Haddow packed up her golf bag to take the head coaching position at the University of Florida, the UA golf program was thrown into disarray.
With no coach for the women's team, Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood turned toward a familiar face to fill the vacancy.
Rick LaRose, the men's golf coach for the last 17 years at Arizona, stepped into the position of women's head coach Jan. 12 and will coach both teams for the remainder of the season.
It is a very unusual situation for a coach of a major university to be given the responsibility to head two teams. The success that LaRose has had with the men's program, plus his eagerness to take on the challenge, made him a natural fit for the job.
"I was excited about taking over the women's program. I am excited about both," LaRose said. "It is something I wanted to do, and I think it is going to help both programs."
One of the main reasons for the in-house appointment of LaRose was to keep the consistency in the program. A midseason replacement could have seriously disrupted the women's performance this season, and it is the hope of the entire golf program that this will be an easier transition.
"I just didn't think that the middle of the year was in the best interest of the girls to change coaching staffs," LaRose said.
The urgency of getting the program running smoothly again was the top priority of LaRose and assistant coaches Amy Solfisburg and Tom Brill.
"We needed to try and get everyone back on track," LaRose said. "We needed to do it right away. Instead of delaying that process, we felt that it was in the best interest to take over and move on."
The reaction to the news was a positive one from both of the teams. The players have been very accepting of the changes, and are looking forward to working together.
"I think the reaction has been very good," LaRose said. "I think the guys are excited about having more contact with the girls. I think the ladies are more excited about having the programs closer together."
Even with the drastic change in the program, LaRose has not altered the high expectations for either team. Both teams are ranked in the nation's top 20 according to the latest pre-season poll, and LaRose is excited about their chances for a successful season.
"The girls are playing better than ever. We set some high goals for this team," he said. "I think they are going to do great."
LaRose is also optimistic of the men's season.
"The guys are improving," LaRose said. "We have some new faces and it's going to be kind of fun to see how we get that to jell together."
One thing that is certain is that LaRose's daily activities have just become more hectic. With two teams to coach, LaRose has been very busy running between practices and golf courses.
"It's a very busy day for me. I live in my car. I live on my car phone. But it's OK," LaRose said. "I enjoy it."
"He's been real busy," said men's golfer Tim Beans, "he's got to get twenty people out to play. He enjoys it though. He loves to be involved with everything. I think he likes the commotion."
With the responsibility of guiding two of the country's top programs, critics might expect LaRose to feel added pressure. But LaRose does-n't expect this to happen.
"I don't look at it as pressure. I look at it as an opportunity," LaRose said.
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