Q&A with Joy Kim
Senior women’s golfer Joy Kim recently wrapped up her career at UVa, helping the Cavaliers to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Kim played in the NCAA Championships all four of her seasons at Virginia.
Question: What was it like being a member of a team that qualified for the NCAA Championships all four years you were here at Virginia?
Kim: It’s great to be a part of that experience. Starting my freshman year-to be able to go to nationals each year-it’s been awesome to be a part of that.
Question: Coach Lewellen joked that you are “The Closer,” playing your best golf at the end of the year. Do you attribute that to anything specific?
Kim: At the end of the year, the weather’s better. I can’t play in the winter. The cold and the rain-I’m just not used to that because I grew up in Hawaii. We played in 70-degree weather all the time, and my body functions in that weather. It just doesn’t function in the cold. I think that’s a big part of it. It’s funny how I got that nickname, but I guess it’s better to be able to pull through at the end.
Question: You always seemed to come through when the team needed you the most, particularly at the NCAA regional tournaments. How were you able to do that each year?
Kim: I’ve played a lot of golf-I started when I was young-and I think I’m just used to that pressure. I’ve been in that position before, and I’ve pulled through. I think I’ve sort of gotten used to it and it doesn’t affect me.
Question: You mentioned you grew up in Hawaii. How long did you live there?
Kim: 13 years.
Question: What was it like growing up there?
Kim: I was on the big island, Kilo side. There’s Kilo side, and then there’s Kona, but we were on Kilo side. It was a great place to grow up. My parents were ginger farmers. It was cool. At our house, we had a warehouse in the back, and that’s where they’d bring in the ginger and clean and floss it. We would help with that. Once in awhile, my mom would take us out to the farm. We had a 10-acre farm about 20 minutes from where we lived and sometimes, they’d let us help. It was just a great place to grow up. A lot of what we did was golf. My dad is an avid golfer. He was actually a scratch player back then, and he got my mom into it when they got married and then he got my brother and I into it. My whole family plays golf.
Question: Does your brother play golf in college?
Kim: Not in college, but he played in high school. They had a good team. They went to states the four years he was there, I think. Afterwards though, he just decided to play for fun.
Question: Why did your family move to Georgia?
Kim: We have family there. My dad’s sister lives there, and she really likes the area. They lived in Seattle for a little bit and then they moved to Georgia. They said it was a good area so we moved there.
Question: What do your parents do there?
Kim: They own a Chinese restaurant.
Question: Does it seem like your time at UVa has flown by?
Kim: I feel like I’ve been here for a while, but at the same time, it’s been fast. I can’t believe it’s over. I’ve been waiting for this time since I started college, but it’s crazy how fast it’s blown by.
Question: Do you feel as though you have changed during your four years at Virginia?
Kim: I think I’ve changed a lot. I think I grew a lot as a person and as an athlete. Just being away from my parents and having that freedom to do what I want-to take on more responsibilities and learn to manage my time-in that way, I definitely grew a lot. I was a part of my team in high school, but it wasn’t as team-oriented as in college. Back in high school, we had to practice on our own. For me, having practices and workouts together in college definitely made me a better athlete.
Question: What did you get your degree in at UVa?
Question: Do you have any plans yet for what you want to do with that?
Kim: I don’t know yet, but it was a subject that interested me in the beginning so I stuck with it.
Question: What’s next for you?
Kim: I’m thinking of maybe taking on an assistant pro position at a golf course or country club.
Question: So you are hoping to stay involved with golf then?
Kim: I think so. I just have so much background and knowledge in it. I don’t have as much experience in anything else, so I think I should stick with golf. Coach Lewellen actually told me that she was an assistant pro when she was younger, and she liked it.
Question: Would you like to go back to Hawaii, or would you rather stay closer to your family?
Kim: I think I would actually like to stay in Northern Virginia. I have a lot of friends who live up there, so it would be nice.
Question: What has been your favorite golf memory at UVa?
Kim: Probably this year’s NCAA tournament. It was my last nationals. Being out there and being able to experience everything. Going to Portland Rosen’s family Ranch-that was a fun experience. I got to ride a horse for the first time-that was awesome.
Question: What will be your favorite non-golf memory of Virginia?
Kim: I have a group of friends, and we play a lot of Frisbee together. I think that would be one of my favorite memories from college.
Question: What’s your best UVa sports memory, aside from your time on the golf team?
Kim: I’m not sure what year it was, but it was when our football team beat Maryland, and all of us rushed the field. We were on the field, and it was pretty cool.
Question: What has been the best road trip you have taken with the team?
Kim: There’s been so many. Albuquerque was an adventure. It’s near Mexico, so we were expecting sunny and warm weather, but when we got there, it was raining and hailing. There were thunderstorms, 40 mile per hour winds. Tumbleweeds were blowing all over the place, and they had jail buses on the course for shelter.
Question: Is there anything you wished you could have done at UVa that you missed out on because of your commitment to golf?
Kim: Graduation. I actually didn’t miss beach week though, because my group of friends were going after NCAAs. We are going to the Outer Banks, so it should be fun.
Question: Thirty years from now, what will you think when you look back and reflect on your experience at Virginia?
Kim: It was a great part of my life. When I was getting recruited, I wasn’t even looking at Virginia. UVa was probably the last school I looked at just because I’d never heard of it. I was looking more toward schools on the West Coast, but I never looked at UVa. I think my dad mentioned it to me and told me it was a great academic school. That’s when I realized it was doing really well in golf. I think the program was ranked No. 7 at the time, so I looked into it and loved it.
Question: Was there something particular that stuck out about UVa?
Kim: The Grounds are beautiful, and Charlottesville is great.
Question: What’s your favorite place to hang out on Grounds?
Kim: The Amphitheater is pretty cool. When I have time in between classes, I like to sit out there and read or something.
Question: Do you have a favorite off-Grounds place to hang out?
Kim: Downtown. I love that area. My friends and I get dumplings down there, and we get frozen yogurt. We just walk around. It’s a nice place.
Question: What is the most important thing you will take away from your time at Virginia?
Kim: I’ve definitely made some really good friends. Even back in Hawaii, my mom would pick us up and take us straight to the golf course, so all of my friends were golf buddies. It was nice, but when I went to school, my friends didn’t always understand why I had to practice golf so much. They would be at the mall and ask me if I wanted to come, but I never had time. Even back in high school, it was the same thing. I didn’t really have much of a social life, but being in college definitely helped that. I have a group of friends outside of golf. They’re my best friends now, and I think they’ll continue to be throughout my life. College also helped me with time management and discipline-being responsible for myself.
Question: Last but not least, in an interview four years ago, you mentioned that you thought Lady Gaga would be the next breakout artist. How did you predict that?
Kim: I heard her song ‘Just Dance,’ and I really liked it. I know she’s crazy now. I don’t really like her now-she’s too psycho for me. I was watching her concert on TV the other day, and it was just bizarre. She’s completely changed since ‘Just Dance.’
Question: Any insights into who will be the next hot artist? When you are warming up, is there a particular group you listen to?
Kim: I listen to a variety of songs. Whatever’s on my iPod. Right now, I’m actually obsessed with the song from ‘Fast Five.’ It’s not even in English, but I like it. The words are in Spanish. I’ve been putting it on repeat, and Calle [Nielson] is sick of it already.