It All Adds Up
“My experience here at Central as a student-athlete has been great. At Central, you get to be built as a whole person, both academically and athletically.”
— Delaney Underwood ’23
What does a golf lover and statistics enthusiast achieve when they attend Central College? For Delaney Underwood ’23, it all adds up to a college experience that, in her own words, has been nothing short of remarkable.
Underwood always dreamed of being a college student-athlete. In fact, having the opportunity to extend her golfing career past high school was one of the deciding factors when it came to choosing Central.
“I knew I wanted to play golf in college,” Underwood says. “When I first came for my visit here, I was initially just thinking about it from an athletics perspective. But once I got on campus and spoke with the coaches and faculty, I saw that in choosing Central I would have time to do everything. So, I chose athletics-based and education.”
“During my visit to Central I also got to meet the golf team and other students who were so welcoming,” Underwood says with a smile. “I sat in on a class and remember thinking that I could picture myself here, right here, for the next four years. I knew right then and there that I was coming here.”
Over the past three seasons, the women’s golf team at Central has been working towards a conference championship. With Underwood captaining the team, this year they achieved their goal.
“Last year, on paper, we should have won conference,” she says. “We came up just seven shots shy of winning. That has motivated our team all year long, and I think that’s what ultimately led us to winning conference by 42 strokes this year.”
A conference championship automatically qualified the team for their third NCAA Division III Championship appearance, taking place at the Mission Inn Resort and Club at Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida. As she has done all year long, Underwood led the Dutch in scoring against the 29-team field, capping off her golf career at Central in style.
Off the green, instead of counting strokes, Underwood is tabulating statistics. In fact, her next goal is pursuing her Master of Science in biostatistics. However, coming to the realization that this was the right direction for her was more of a winding road than a straight drive down the fairway.
“When I came to Central, I initially was going to major in mathematics or chemistry,” Underwood says. “I took a few math courses, as well as some general chemistry to begin. Within the chemistry side of things, I also had to take a few biology classes. I really enjoyed them and made the decision to switch from coming in as a math or chemistry major to now majoring in biology.”
“It’s been a very smooth transition,” Underwood says. “Everyone has been so supportive. All of it has led me to enrolling in graduate school at Duke University, which I’ll be attending Fall 2023. There, I’ll be studying biostatistics, which I never even knew was something that interested me until I came to Central. With the help and guidance of my professors, the more and more I looked into it, the more I thought, ‘If that’s not me, I’m not sure what is.’”
Being a student-athlete at Central is something Underwood doesn’t take for granted.
“My experience here at Central as a student-athlete has been great,” she says. “There’s support from faculty and coaches who work with you. They’re very flexible and it has made my experience here even better. At Central, you get to be built as a whole person, both academically and athletically.”
“From the minute I stepped on campus, I had the golf team here as a first connection and group of friends,” Underwood says. “From there, you branch out to making other friends and having your own friend groups as well. It’s just so nice to have all those connections.”
Underwood’s Division III experience at Central has also been highlighted in her being a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council here on campus.
“It allows us as student-athletes to have a voice,” she says. “We get to give our input and opinion on topics that then go to the national level. It makes you feel like your voice is being heard and your interests are being supported.”
Everything that Underwood has had the opportunity to experience here at Central is something she’ll hold on to for the rest of her life.
“The opportunities here are endless,” she says. “Ultimately, what makes Central so unique is that it sets you up and prepares you for the future. Everyone here pushes you to be your best. Everybody wants you to succeed and is willing to help you in any way that you need.”