Fit For A Queenie: The Grace and Focus of Quinnipiac Women’s Golf Queen Phenom Queenie Lai

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Quinnipiac women’s golf freshman Queenie Lai never aimed to become a winner of three-straight MAAC Golfer of the Week awards.

“It just kind of happened,” Lai said. “It was nice the first time, but my goal has never shifted.”

For Lai, that goal is made up of a few parts. As she put it, she always tries to be her absolute best. Remarkably, she attempts to block out the awards and results.

Rather than embracing her rewards and recognition, as athletes frequently do, she cares about one thing the most: the end goal.

Despite consistently ending up with scores in the 70’s, finishing in the top 10 of tournaments and earning awards, Lai just plays her game and focuses on the results for her team.

“I want to get our team prepared for the conference championship,” Lai remarked.

Her personality, poise and determination are traits that head coach John O’Conner has seen develop at a rapid pace.

“She’ll never say it, but she couldn’t care less about the awards,” O’Conner said with a smirk. “She just wants to win; she brings a new type of focus to the team.”

Aside from the accolades and results, Lai has brought one attribute that can’t be taught: grace.

Onlookers stop and watch her. She’s dispelled the idea that freshman can’t have a big impact beyond the field, as her own team looks up to her and learns from her.

“Certainly, Queenie is well-liked by everyone on the team. She always works hard. She’s made the golf team this year far better than it’s ever been,” O’Conner said with pride.

With just a year under her belt of living in the United States, Lai’s transition from leaving her hometown of Hong Kong, an autonomous territory of China, has been a fairly seamless one.

She’s spent her entire life growing up in the city that 7.4 million people call home. In Hamden, she’s one of the 7,000 undergraduate students that attend Quinnipiac, the fairly small school in a New Haven suburb.

The time away from home, though, is something she is used to.

“It was a quick adjustment,” Lai recalled. “When I was in high school and middle school I traveled a lot to play international tournaments.”

Though she didn’t know it at the time, the constant time away from home would serve as a benefit in the long run. As Queenie put it, she learned to become independent at a young age.

“I’d be away from home for a week or two because of being on the national team in Hong Kong,” Lai said as she reminisced.

It wasn’t long ago when she got on the phone with O’Conner to discuss the possibility of coming to Quinnipiac, long before she ever knew anyone on the team.

“Everyone was very welcoming. My teammates have become my best friends,” Lai said with a smile.

She noted that even when the team has a down tournament, which at this point is rare, everyone is quick to pick each other up.

For Quinnipiac, the great thing may be that the best of what Queenie has to offer has yet to come.

The freshman force has emerged quietly to the top ranks of the nation’s best women golfers. Her voice has been on the green, and more importantly, her results. On the team though, she is the quiet, dominant and graceful force.

Her play is heard, but the impact of her words? That’s the team’s reaction.

“As long as I stay focused and smart on the course and just keep doing what I do, the long-term results will come.”