Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

After 37 years, UNCW women’s golf coach Cindy Ho can finally call the U.S. home

By admin Jun10,2024

Gone are the days when UNCW women’s golf coach Cindy Ho had to leave the U.S. each year and return to her native Canada.

Ho, one of UNCW’s longest-tenured coaches, earned her U.S. citizenship on May 14, marking a pivotal achievement in her 37-year journey in the U.S.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be a citizen of the United States,” Ho said. “The outpouring of support and love … I’m just so touched.”

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The four-time CAA coach of the year joined UNCW in 2002 and has led the Seahawks to seven conference championships. She’s sent nine squads to NCAA regionals and steered teams to 31 tournament wins.

Those accolades are a glistening reminder of Ho’s dedication to the sport she’s loved most of her life, but her most recent accomplishment highlights some of her deepest values.

“I’ve lived here twice as long as I did in Canada,” Ho said. “This is where I’ve spent pretty much my whole life. It means so much to be a citizen, and it’s a tremendous honor. I don’t think people realize how blessed they are to be a citizen of this country.”

Born in Canada to Chinese parents, Ho played collegiate golf at Lamar University in Texas before coaching at then-Division II Longwood College in 1992.

Despite the hurdles before her, Ho earned a role as a teacher and golf coach for the Lancers. She would spend a decade with the program, leading it to two National Golf Coaches Association Division II national championships in 1993 and 1995.

“Back then, there were no assistant jobs,” Ho said. “When I was playing, coaches weren’t even allowed to coach on the golf course, so that’s how far things have changed.”

In 2002, she joined UNCW, leading the Seahawks to Big South Conference championships in 2003 and 2004 while being selected as the conference’s coach of the year in each season.

Despite her success in athletics, Ho still had to return to Canada each year as her work visa didn’t allow permanent residence.

“Year to year, I had to exit out and come back in,” she said. “It was kind of at the mercy of the officer you had interviewing you. It was done right at the border, and you just never knew how it was going to go.”

It wasn’t until 2017, when Ho was approved for a green card, that she could officially start the paperwork to become a naturalized citizen.

“I have a North Carolina driver’s license, I have a social security number, I pay taxes, but I haven’t been able to serve on a jury. I’ve also never voted once. So part of (becoming a citizen) is about participation.”

Ho finished her 22nd year with UNCW this spring. Her players’ youthful spirit and success on the course keep her coming back each year.

“I don’t know all their music unless it’s Taylor Swift or something like that,” she said with a chuckle. “I’m trying to stay relevant, and they keep me young, and I still think I have a bunch of good years left in me.”

This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: After 37 years, UNCW golf coach Cindy Ho earns U.S. citizenship

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