Kelsey Ulep credits recent success to new outlook on life

Up until she injured her groin during a weightlifting session last spring, Oregon junior Kelsey Ulep had started in every tournament possible over the course of her Oregon career.

By the time the Duck’s fall season wrapped up in November of 2015, she had played in a total of 55 rounds, the highest mark for any sophomore on the team.

But her longevity as a staple of the Ducks’ starting five came to an end last January when, during a workout that involved jumping deadlifts, Ulep felt a strong pain in her groin. At first, she didn’t think much of it. But the pain persisted and a visit to the doctor a week later revealed that she had strained her groin.

“I thought it was going to be something that would be like two weeks of just rest and then I could play again,” Ulep said. “But I was out for a really long time.”

The injury that Ulep sustained was not just to her groin but to her hip and back too.

“So pretty much everything you need for a downswing,” Ulep said. “When I started to hit, I would feel it in my back first. It would start to tighten and I wouldn’t be able to rotate. It was awful.”

Ulep missed extended time, much more than she originally anticipated. She didn’t play in a single tournament last year during Oregon’s 2016 spring campaign and watched from the sideline as the Ducks made a historic run in the NCAA Championships.

By the time summer rolled around, Ulep had recovered enough to play again, but still wasn’t back 100 percent. She said that her swing speed hadn’t come back yet and she was still trying to mentally recover.

A poor showing during this fall’s qualifying didn’t help things.

“I just think mentally, I wasn’t in a good place,” Ulep said. “Coming from the injury and then straight into competitive play and then not doing well in the first qualifying, it hurt me. It was awful. Like, I was expecting to do well right away and I just didn’t.”

Ulep, who had never missed a collegiate tournament, didn’t play a single round this past fall.

She had fallen completely out of the rotation.

But as head coach Ria Scott likes to say, “Winter Break does wonders” and for Ulep, that could not have been more true.

Ulep returned home to a positive and loving family, who, she said, helped turned things around for her.

She cut out negative energy and influences from her life and gained a new positive outlook on life. She worked with her dad on her swing and began to truly feel healthy again.

“I think over winter she basically just got this renewed passion for the game and renewed belief in herself that this is where she is supposed to be and this is what she is supposed to be doing,” Scott said about Ulep.

Whatever she changed appears to be working. Ulep made the top three in spring qualifying and will hold a position in all of Oregon’s tournament’s moving forward.

Last weekend, at the Peg Barnard Invitational, Ulep shot a team best 2-under par (140) and finished second place overall among individuals in her first tournament in over a year.

Looking ahead, Ulep hopes to keep this new positive mindset going forward.

“It’s been a crazy couple months but I’m at a really good place and I’m really happy now.”

Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris

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Gus Morris

Gus Morris

Gus Morris covers Oregon football, basketball and women's golf for the Emerald. Caffeine addict. Bay Area sports. I know words, I have the best words.