After 17 years under the leadership of head coach Kevin Williams, the East Carolina University women’s golf team has a fresh face as head coach coming into the 2019-2020 season. ECU women’s golf coach C.C. Buford may be new to campus but she already knows what it means to be a Pirate.
This will be Buford’s first season of her head coaching career. According to Buford, it has been an exciting challenge for her and assistant coach Robbie Fields to learn from their team about where the team has been and where they want it to go to continue to grow as a program.
“We were really excited when we found out it was coach Buford,” senior golfer Grace Yatawara said. “I feel like the transitions hasn’t been hard. Coming in they made us feel super comfortable it was easy to ask them questions.”
Buford comes from an athletic family that primarily focused on basketball. Her brother, Chase Buford, played through college at the University of Kansas and her dad, R.C. Buford, is the general manager of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. However, her mother, Beth Boozer Buford, was a Lady’s Professional Golf Association tour golfer on both the European and US circuits.
It wasn’t until her sophomore year of high school that Buford took an interest in playing golf herself. In her retelling of the events she said that she was approached by a friend that got her to join her high school team to keep the golf program from being cut. She immediately took the sport and appreciated the constant improvement that you could get in golf that you don’t get from other sports at times.
Buford continued her golf career into college where she played for the College of Charleston. After college she tried for a brief time to play professionally. Without a team around her to support her she found that she struggled to find motivation. During this time her college coach and her childhood coach helped guide her in the direction of coaching as a career path.
Now as head coach of the Pirates women’s golf team, she looks back on her time with coach Jamie Futrell, College of Charleston’s women’s golf coach, for inspiration, as well as growing up around Gregg “Pop” Popovich, head basketball coach of the Spurs, having an impact on her.
“There’s a lot of really good coach influences in my life,” Buford said. “I always learned to see people for their character and not what they do. I would say the two greatest influences on me as coaches are my college coach Jamie Futrell and Coach Pop from the Spurs.”
She describes the environment here at ECU as having a strong community feel. Even before students arrived back on campus she could imagine people spending time on the Mall and hanging out by the Cupola. Being a Pirate to Buford means working hard for your end goal, that you don’t give up and you keep pushing.
Looking forward Buford wants to continue to grow the women’s golf program. Her goal is to try to win a conference championship within the next three to five years. She would also like to see an ECU player make it to nationals.
“I feel like the women’s golf team has been a really successful tradition here at East Carolina and so knowing that it gets me excited to continue that with an athletic department that already has a great reputation in the state and in the American Conference too.” Buford said.
This season Buford believes the team has a lot of positive energy and is very enthusiastic. They have a solid schedule that will have courses that highlight each players strengths. The team continues to learn to work together and lean on each other with the guidance of Buford and Fields.
The team only has five players this season, which means that they will have no substitutes. Buford says this allows her to pour everything into all five of her players and they don’t have to worry about beating out their own teammates to play in tournaments.
“I think that since we are only five people,” senior golfer Dorthea Forbrigd said. “Everyone is going to have bad days and everyone is going to have good days, so I think it’s just all about going out there and thinking that your score is gonna count no matter what.”
Over the summer, Buford thought a lot about the values she wanted to put into her team. She created her own acronym ECU, standing for Effort, Character and Unity. Effort meaning that as a coach and a team they will give their all every day, Character means they will show integrity in everything they do, and Unity meaning that they will work together and support each other.
Buford will lead the Pirates into their first tournament this weekend in Minnesota for the Minnesota Invitational. Last season the Pirates finished fourth in the tournament.