Living with diabetes has been less of a struggle for Melinda Amick as she matures, but she's hoping to contribute to the cure for the disease one day.
And she's using golf to help her achieve this.
The East Union senior has signed with Westmont College out of Santa Barbara County, where she will study chemical engineering. She marked the occasion last Thursday near the ninth hole at Manteca Park Golf Course, where she inked her National Letter of Intent in front of her coaches and family.
“(Diabetes) has definitely made school, life and playing golf a little more difficult, but I think it has benefited me more than it has held me back,” Amick said. “It motivated me to show people that you can still do normal things, even if you're burdened by a disease like diabetes.”
Westmont College is a small private school located in Montecito just east of Santa Barbara. In October, Amick got to visit the campus and meet second-year coach Tom Knecht and the rest of the team. The Warriors men's and women's teams — both headed by Knecht — enjoyed some early success in their inaugural season, which was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Westmont is part of the Golden State Athletic Conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Amick considered other schools, but Westmont “fit like a puzzle piece.”
“The Santa Barbara area is beautiful, for one,” she said. “The coach and I really clicked, and the team immediately felt like a family, and that's what I was looking for.”
Amick credits East Union co-coach and Manteca Park GC instructor Dennis Wells for her development. She began playing in preschool, tagging along with her dad, Patrick, at Jack Tone Golf Course in Ripon. In fifth grade she started taking lessons from Wells, and the closer she got to high school her mentor encouraged her to compete in more tournaments year-round.
Amick has been addicted to the sport since.
“I just love it, and it has been my dream to go play college golf,” she said.
Her improvement showed in a successful junior campaign. In the fall of 2019, she made the All-Valley Oak League team, turned in a rock-solid 7-over-78 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Tournament at The Ridge Golf Club in Auburn and was just one of three Manteca-area golfers to qualify for the SJS Masters. She carded an 86 at Masters, held annually at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton.
She is hopeful to have a senior season starting some point in the spring, and based on a recent guidelines provided by the California Department of Public Health there's a good chance of it happening for golfers.
Amick has doing all she can to stay sharp since her last high school season. She played in Junior Golf Association of North America, earning four top-10 finishes in seven events. She most recently took eighth in the Ty Caplin Memorial at Elk Horn Country Club on July 20, but tournaments have since been shut down.
“Having the connection I have right now with Coach Dennis and my team, it kind of hurts not being with them for a final season,” Amick said. “We will still stay close, and as much as I miss them if we can't have a season we would understand why.
“Making it all the way to state (California Interscholastic Federation Championships) has been the goal these last four years,” she added. “Not getting that final chance, you'll always wonder, 'what if?'”