Earning one of the highest recognitions from the Ladies Professional Golf Association's Teaching Division, Morehead State women's golf head coach Stephanie Barker has been named the LPGA Midwest Coach of the Year, the LPGA announced Wednesday.
The honor marks the second of Barker's career, having also captured the Midwest Section's Coach of the Year distinction in 2015. Her selection also puts her amongst an exclusive group of LPGA Midwest Section teaching professionals as she's the fifth coach since 2000 to earn the honor on multiple occasions, joining Janet Carl (Cincinnati; five selections), Diane Daugherty (Southern Illinois; three), Therese Hession (Ohio State; three), and Betty Kaufmann (DePaul; three).
"I am incredibly honored and delighted to be the 2020 recipient of the LPGA Midwest Coach of the Year award," said Barker. "I love what I do and appreciate the opportunity to give back to the game of golf, as well as college athletics. Every day I am excited to work hard and spend time with my colleagues."
Annually, the members of the LPGA Professionals have selected the recipients of annual section Teacher, Professional, Coach, and Junior Golf leadership awards. Winners in each of the six LPGA Professionals sections (Central, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Western, and International) are selected by the section officers and section nominating committee chair in each of the four categories.
The LPGA Professionals Coach of the Year award was established in 1980 and is awarded annually to an LPGA Professionals member in each section. Recipients must be in good standing with the LPGA and are selected based on teaching and coaching excellence, leadership, community service, character, and LPGA involvement.
In 2019-20, Barker led Morehead State to five top-10 finishes, including four top-five placements. The team's highest finish of the season came as the Eagles captured the Oyster Shuck Match Play championship in February following a perfect 3-0 record in the event.
Under Barker's tutelage, freshman MacKenzie Neal earned a spot on the Ohio Valley Conference's All-Newcomer Team after leading all OVC freshmen and transfer student-athletes in stroke average at 75.8, a total that ranked eighth amongst all OVC golfers. Neal led all Eagle golfers with three top-10 individual finishes on the year while placing on two All-Tournament teams.
Off the course, Barker's squad posted a 3.82 team GPA, a total that led all Morehead State teams in 2019-20 and ranked as the 19th-best team GPA amongst all NCAA Division I women's golf programs. For their efforts, the Eagles earned the program's first Women's Golf Coaches Association All-Scholar Team GPA Award while five Eagle golfers earned WGCA All-American Scholar selections.
"Being recognized by the LPGA for doing something I love is such a blessing. I can't think of any profession that I've had that is more rewarding than working with student-athletes who constantly strive to improve. I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity to be a member of the LPGA and to continue to learn from my esteemed colleagues. Thank you to my family, my team, Morehead State, and everyone who has helped me along the way," added Barker.