United Airlines' gift of travel gives big lift to NC Central golf teams

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Division I college golf life is not always one of leisure. On top of the mental and emotional stress of the game comes the travel.

"Florida was the longest drive and being in the car that long, 11 hours or 12 hours, it gets to you," said Kendall Wallace, a sophomore NCCU golfer.

It's part of life for athletics programs with limited funding.

"Before, our travel budgets just weren't there," said Kendra Greene, interim coach. "It was what can we do either on a small bus or that 12 passenger van."

But things will be different this season and beyond.

NCCU was among a list of more than 30 Historically Black Colleges and Universities to be selected for a one-time sponsorship from United Airlines -- $20,000 in total to be used for travel support for the men's and women's programs during the next two seasons.

"Just to be able to see now student-athletes to be able to feel like they're a true Division I golf program," Green said. "They're not having to get in a van" and drive 12 hours.

Athletes are excited.

Jumping on a plane for two hours? Whole other, like, game-changer," said Natasha Ainsley-Thomas, a redshirt senior on the women's golf team. "It means I can take some time to actually recover and get ready, and my body is ready to compete."

Those resources will be put to good use immediately, as the season begins with a new destination in a few short weeks.

We were so excited we couldn't lock ourselves into that women's Houston tournament until we had those funds," Greene said. "And so, we got to tell the ladies, guess what guys? In March, you're going to Houston."
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