Sarah Dunning is a third-year math major and member of the Varsity Blues women’s golf team. She was named the University of Toronto’s Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Top Scholar Athlete for 2012-13. Sarah is the winner of the 2014 OUA individual women’s golf championship. She was named an OUA First Team All-Star and athlete of the week.
Describe yourself in 50 words or less.
I am a good hardworking student who likes to learn, but golf is my passion. I love being a Varsity Blues athlete and representing the university.
What first sparked your interest in golf?
To be honest, I didn’t have anything to do one summer when I was about 12, and my mom signed me up for a golf camp. It turned out I loved it.
Why did your mom choose a golf camp?
It was close to home and I loved sports. It’s turned out to be a fluke, because nobody else in my family plays – it’s just me. Golf is a very family-oriented sport; normally generations of a family play.
What is it about golf that appeals to you?
It’s an individual sport. You control what happens. It’s not you against somebody else, it’s you against the course. It’s all about believing in yourself and going out there and doing it.
Do you have any pre-competition rituals that help you prepare?
I have a lot of them. I have a lucky coin that someone very close to me gave me – someone who helped me start off in the game – and I take it with me to every tournament. It’s always with me in my pocket; I won’t play without it.
The rest of my rituals involve preparation: eating, visualization and taking time to warm up. I try to make sure I am as relaxed as possible and ready to play.
What is your training schedule like?
During the school year, I work out twice a week with a trainer at the Athletic Centre and practice two or three times a week.
The dome over Varsity Stadium is fantastic – it’s a great practice facility and it allows me to practice all winter. After exams, I practice every day, no matter what the conditions are. Rain, wind, or cold; it doesn’t matter. At the OUA championship, the weather was terrible, so my practice paid off.
What was it like to win the championship?
I didn’t even believe I won at first. I kept thinking someone else was going to come in and shoot something really low. It took me 20 minutes to realize I had actually won. I was especially happy to have my team and coaches there for support. Together we won the team championship, too. It was an exciting day.
What do you value most about your undergraduate experience so far?
Realizing you come to university for education, and it’s not about getting a job or a means to an end; it’s about learning, exploring, finding new things and learning about yourself. The most important part is the learning and broadening of your horizons with all the new ideas and people you are exposed to.
What is the most memorable lesson you’ve learned here?
To believe in yourself. No matter how much hard work you put in, no matter how much you train or study, if you don’t believe in yourself, you’re not going to be able to achieve what you want. That’s the most important thing – and it’s also the hardest part.
What’s your favourite thing about being a New College student?
My mom [Dr. Shelley Dunning, New ‘80] graduated from here – that’s why I came here. Sometimes I walk by these walls and I see her picture from the year she graduated – it’s really cool. But I also lived in residence here for two years and that was a fantastic experience. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I’m going to apply to professional schools, but further than that, I’m not really sure. All I know is, I definitely want to do something with golf in my future.