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Catching up with Monica Vaughn

Former PNGA Junior Girls’ Player of the Year and national collegiate champion has found her way as a college golf coach

by Steve Mims

Just 15 in 2010, Monica remains the youngest to ever win the Oregon Women’s Amateur.

While Monica Vaughn was earning All-American honors and winning national championships at Arizona State from 2014-17, Derek Radley was a rival assistant coach across the state at the University of Arizona.

When Radley was hired as head women’s golf coach at Oregon in 2018, he asked Vaughn to return to her home state as his lone full-time assistant coach.

“We were such good rivals and he always remembered me playing so well as an individual and I always remember their team for winning everything,” Vaughn recently recalled. “There was definitely a rivalry, but it was super friendly at the same time. That was how it started. When he reached out to me about coaching at U of O, I was taken aback, but I got on the phone within about 15 minutes.”

Vaughn won the NCAA individual title as a senior with the Sun Devils in 2017 and 15 months later, she joined Radley with the Ducks.

“I can’t really remember if I considered coaching while I was playing in college, but I do credit my desire to want to coach to my experiences with the coaches at ASU,” Vaughn said. “They had a big impact on me and guided me. I trusted and looked up to them. After college, I wasn’t 100 percent sure what my next move was, but this fell into my lap and that experience at ASU made me want to give back to the game.”

Joining the Ducks was a homecoming for Vaughn, who was a two-time prep golf champion at Reedsport High School, a town on Oregon’s south coast located about 90 miles from Eugene. In 2010, she became, at age 15, the youngest winner ever of the Oregon Women’s Amateur and also won the Oregon Junior Amateur and Oregon Public Links titles that year, and capped it by winning the 2010 PNGA Junior Girls’ Amateur. She was named the 2010 PNGA Junior Girls’ Player of the Year.

In addition to winning medalist honors as a senior at Arizona State, Vaughn helped the Sun Devils win the national team title as well. One year later, Radley and the Wildcats won the NCAA title before he was hired by the Ducks.

Radley and Vaughn almost claimed another national title last year when Oregon reached the NCAA championship match before losing to Stanford. Oregon is back in the Top-10 this season after placing second to Stanford in the Pac-12 Preview tournament in November before taking a three-month break before the spring seasons begins.

“I love working with Coach Derek,” Vaughn says. “I think we make a great team. We have a lot of good people, so that makes it fun.”

Radley is a certified PGA Class A professional with a reputation as a relentless recruiter.

An accomplished player herself, Monica (right) is a natural mentor to her young athletes. (Photo courtesy UO Athletics)

“He wanted a good player to coach with him,” Vaughn said. “He wanted a players’ mind and took a chance on me. We have been a great team, I come from the players’ background and he has the teaching background.”

Vaughn turned pro out of college, but then took a break from playing competitively and eventually regained her amateur status. In 2021, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open.

Vaughn plans to play more competitive amateur golf, but admits that once the college season is over she seeks a break from the game during the summer when the top regional and national events are held.

“Summer time in Oregon is so amazing, I want to be on the water or doing other hobbies so it is hard to want to grind on the course all day,” Vaughn said.

The 27-year old is considering trying to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur after seeing native Oregonian Krissy Carman claim the national title last summer. Vaughn and Carman grew up competing against each other in junior events.

Vaughn has another big event on the calendar this summer on Aug. 12 when she is set to marry Justin Fisher, who works in the development department at Oregon.

“I have been extremely fortunate to be able to be close to home working at Oregon,” Vaughn said. “It is a great school, I have a great boss and I met my fiancé here. This job has given me everything I want, so I am very happy to have gotten into coaching as my career.”

Steve Mims spent 21 years as a sportswriter at The Eugene Register-Guard. He was a finalist for Oregon Sportswriter of the Year in 2017.