Graduating athlete Stina Resen finds success in the classroom

Stina Resen on the golf course

A native of Oslo, Norway, Stina Resen came to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as a transfer student-athlete looking for a fresh start.

Four years later, she is leaving as a double major in economics and finance and as one of the most decorated golfers in program history.

A two-time All-Sun Belt honoree and the only Sun Belt Golfer of the Year winner in program history, Resen boasts a 3.85 cumulative GPA. Twice she was named to the Chancellor’s List for earning a perfect 4.0 semester GPA and has yet to finish with a semester GPA below 3.8.

Path to Little Rock

As a prep at Norges Toppidrettsgymnas in Norway, Resen and her teammates made annual visits to schools in the United States. Those trips were her first exposure to the United States, and they sparked initial thoughts of going to college in the U.S. She attended Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, for a semester before deciding she needed a different fit.

That is when Little Rock head women’s golf coach Bridgett Norwood stepped in.

“After I decided to transfer I got a scholarship offer from coach Norwood,” Resen said. “Coming to Little Rock was probably the best decision I have ever made.”

Resen arrived in Little Rock in the spring of 2013. Outside of her interactions with Norwood, which were limited to a few Skype conversations, she did not know a single person on campus.

Fortunately, she was joining a team full of student-athletes who had faced the same challenge. The entire 2013-14 team was comprised of Europeans, with players representing Denmark, France, Norway, Scotland and Sweden on the roster. Resen and her teammates bonded.

Her roommate was from Sweden, giving her someone who spoke the same language. She and some of her teammates even joined UA Little Rock’s International Club to meet other international students on campus.

“We would have outings all the time and would get to know people from other countries,” Resen said. “It created connections.”

Stina Resen accepts an award

Growing academically

Resen, who was a general studies major at Lamar, also found a path academically through her new connections.

Business was not a strong academic interest before she arrived at Little Rock. Math and physics courses were a larger part of her curriculum back home. However, several of her new teammates were studying business, and Coach Norwood encouraged her to give it a chance. Resen took some classes and enjoyed them, declaring a major in economics before eventually adding finance as a second degree.

The key to balancing a double major with a Division I golf schedule?

“Time management,” Resen said. “Go to class – every class – and never skip class. If we traveled for a tournament, I would usually do my work before I left. On the first day of every class (at the start of the semester), I would talk to my professors about the time I would have to miss.”

The typical schedule for a Division I golf tournament starts by traveling to the event location – which can take the Trojans as far as Arizona or California – on Saturday. After checking into the hotel Saturday night, the teams wake up and play their practice rounds on Sunday. Official play begins with 36 holes of golf on Monday before finishing with 18 holes on Tuesday.

Finally, the trip home begins. Typically, Resen and the Trojans would get home close to midnight, but sometimes as late as 2 or 3 a.m. After all that, it’s back to class Wednesday morning.

Taking the next step on the course

On the golf course, Resen’s first season on campus showed improvement from her time at Lamar. She competed in all 11 events and ranked third on the team in scoring. Still, she knew she was capable of more.

Resen spent the summer between her sophomore and junior years working on all aspects of her game. From competing against the top players in Europe to finding her mental edge, those summer months were devoted to improving.

Stina Resen on the golf course“I played in tournaments all over Europe,” Resen said. “I played in as many as I could and I was very motivated for my next year. I struggled a lot mentally my sophomore year – golf is a very mental game.”

Resen worked with a coach that summer, Dr. Joe Parent, to help her “crack the code” mentally. She credits him with much of the transformation that followed.

“You want to control where the ball goes, but that’s not how it works,” Resen said. “I had to lose some control to gain control.”

The benefits that followed were immediate. Resen tied for third place in the Trojans’ second event of the fall 2014 season and added a Top 5 finish the following week. She added another third-place finish shortly thereafter and was voted the Sun Belt Conference Golfer of the Month for October 2014.

She picked up where she left off that spring, adding another Golfer of the Month accolade in February while capturing individual medalist honors at the South Alabama Women’s Invitational – her first collegiate victory.

The best was yet to come, as Resen became the first Little Rock golfer since 2009 to earn individual medalist honors at the Sun Belt Championship in April. Later that month, she became the first player in program history to be voted Sun Belt Golfer of the Year.

Life after graduation

Resen’s parents will attend UA Little Rock’s spring commencement on Saturday, May 13. It will be their second trip to Arkansas since Resen arrived on campus. Upon graduation, she looks forward to returning to Norway and playing competitively. Eventually she would like to use her degrees in a capacity that keeps her close to golf.

As she looks back on her time in Little Rock, Resen is appreciative of all the students and professors who made her feel welcome on campus. Above all, she appreciates her head coach, who believed in her, gave her a chance to compete and supported her through her four years on campus.

“She was helpful,” Resen said of Norwood. “If there was anything I needed, I could always talk to her. We have a great connection.”

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