Photo courtesy of Duquesne Athletics.

New Duquesne Women’s Golf Program to be ‘catalyst’ in Western PA
By Josh Rowntree, Director of Communications  • February 23, 2024

Over the last two years, Duquesne University has made several decisions that will almost assuredly positively impact the landscape of girls and women’s golf in Western Pennsylvania.

The University, situated on the doorstep of downtown Pittsburgh, decided in 2022 to sponsor women’s golf as a NCAA Division I sport.

With a lack of Division I women’s programs in the region, the move seemed like a perfect marriage. What has followed continues in the vein.

Colleen Meyers was hired to head the program, bringing years of personal golf experience and a strong coaching background to the Bluff.

“As soon as I played the sport, I was immediately hooked,” said Meyers, who has won numerous events, including WPGA sponsored women’s competitions over the years. “I’m a competitive person… Golf gave me that avenue where it was something that I could work at and get better at.”

Meyers got into coaching at Oakland Catholic High School when the school’s administration reached out and asked her to join their coaching staff as her daughter was entering her freshman year.

“That’s where I found my love for coaching,” said Meyers, who started as an assistant and then became the head coach, all before taking the jump to the college ranks, a move that took her just down the road.

Meyers linked up with Dan Rodgers, the head coach at Carnegie Mellon, and the two helped build a program that claimed last year’s NCAA Division III National Championship on the men’s side and finished fourth overall in the women’s championship.

“They brought me in and interviewed me, the men and the women, and fired questions at me,” she said of her first impression at CMU. “I totally loved that experience, because it was brutally apparent that everyone in that room was there because they worked so hard and cared about their team. That was something I wanted to be involved with.”

The success at Carnegie Mellon sparked Duquesne’s administration’s attention, and they gauged Meyers’ interest in taking over their women’s program, set to officially begin this coming fall.

“I went in for an interview and it just seemed like a perfect fit,” said Meyers, who admitted that the opportunity was simply too good to pass up, despite her strong connection with Rodgers and her affinity for Carnegie Mellon’s players.

“I live in Pittsburgh, and I’ve lived here my whole life. When this opportunity came along, I just felt like I’d be cheating myself not to take advantage of it and see where I can take it.”

While the chance to start Pittsburgh’s first Division I women’s golf team is a grand one, it also comes with challenges.

Duquesne, of course, has no history in the sport to sell to recruits and transfers. It will also compete in the Atlantic 10, which has not sponsored women’s golf until now — the Dukes’ addition, along with Saint Joseph’s, has given the conference enough teams to formally compete.

But the first task is building a roster, and Meyers — who wants to build a team with a diverse collection of first-year players and experienced transfers — has been able to dip into a strong pool of golfers in Western Pennsylvania already.

Duquesne’s first two commitments were from Mt. Lebanon native Lindsey Powanda and Hermitage’s Sasha Petrochko.

“A lot of my interest has come from local talent, which I think is a true, amazing testament to two things — Duquesne University itself, and my history and how people view me as a coach,” Meyers said, adding that she’s known as an encouraging, positive coach.

Powanda was an accomplished youth golfer, who won the 2020 WPIAL Individual Championship at Mt. Lebanon High School, among several other accolades. She could have gone the Division I route immediately but wanted to stay close to home and enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh to pursue a degree in nursing. Now she’ll get the chance to continue her path to her degree and compete on the course.

“Coming out of high school, I was only recruited in the southern states,” Powanda said. “I knew I didn’t want to go that far. And the other difficult thing was with my nursing major, a lot of Division I sports teams don’t allow that because of the time commitment… but Colleen was really supportive from day one. She was like, ‘we’re going to make it happen, you’re going to do both.’”

Meyers felt like Powanda was a natural fit.

“When this came about, it was like it was meant to be and made for her,” Meyers said. “She’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. She texts me Trackman photos every day, she’s working out with our strength coach already… She’s all in and going to be a great leader.”

Petrochko was an easy add for Meyers, too.

“I knew she’d be another great person to build the program around,” Meyers said of Petrochko, who won three PIAA state titles at Hickory High School. “She’s so strong mentally. She’s strong as far as her fundamentals. Everything about her is strong. And she’s a great teammate.”

The incoming freshman believes that Duquesne can soon become a strong challenger in its conference and beyond.

“I really hope that we can make an impact immediately,” said Petrochko, whose sister went to Duquesne and who wants to get into the dental field. “I know we’re going to be in the Atlantic 10, and there are some good competitors. But I hope we can have some strong tournaments from the start.”

After finding the first couple of student-athletes — with more to come soon, according to Meyers — Duquesne needed to find a home course. Sewickley Heights emerged as a welcoming host for the program.

“I’m elated with that,” said Meyers, who will also benefit from the addition of a practice facility on Duquesne’s campus soon. “Having somewhere that is so challenging and will prepare us for anything we may face on the road is just so critical… There are so many things that we can practice and get really good at."

“And the other aspect that’s so amazing is that, being in this industry so many years and seeing that if the home course where you play and practice, if they welcome you with open arms, it’s a game changer… Sewickley Heights could not be happier to have this partnership with us.”

Ultimately, Duquesne sponsoring women’s golf will serve a cause bigger than Meyers, bigger than her players and bigger than the school itself. It’s a massive addition to the golf community, particularly for girls and young women.

Southwestern Pennsylvania has only one other NCAA Division I women’s golf program in Saint Francis, located over 70 miles from the heart of the city. So, the chance to offer golf to young women in the direct proximity of Pittsburgh is a new, exciting development.

“It’s really cool to be a part of this, because I know a lot of my friends who committed to schools were like, ‘there’s nothing in Pittsburgh, so we have to go away,” Powanda said. “Not many of them were super thrilled about it. It’s really good for the game, and it’s great for young girls out there that we have these opportunities now.”

For Meyers, who has observed the recent boom in golf, including among females, she sees Duquesne as a potential beacon for women in the region.

“It’s a huge catalyst for our area,” said Meyers, who will begin formal practices with her team later in the summer. “Western Pennsylvania has some of the best junior golfers come out of this area, and they go away for college. Why not keep this in this area and support this area? Plus, we have some of the best golf courses here.”

“To have a Division I program, right here in Pittsburgh, it’s phenomenal.”

For media inquiries, please contact WPGA Director of Communications Josh Rowntree.

About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and nearly 37,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund and Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame.