Jahaanvie Walia: Golf superstar


Zambia is a medium sized country in south-central Africa. It is home to 16.6 million people, one of those people is a sophomore and recent Sun Belt golfer of the week, Jahaanvie Walia.
Walia became the Sun Belt golfer of the week on the back of her individual win at APSU Intercollegiate on Oct. 2 in Clarksville, Tennessee.
“It feels good [to win], obviously but to me, I can always get better. This last win my brother’s been so psyched about it, he’s been like ‘that’s awesome. It’s your third win. You’re new there’ but I’m like, ‘yeah but I could’ve finished better.,’” said Walia about her recent win.
Walia is new to ULM, she spent her first collegiate year at Alcorn State.
“Initially, I was supposed to go to Bethune Cookman where my brother was. The coach there left, basically… [Alcorn State] came my way and I was like let me try to talk to this coach and see what he says like as a last minute recruit. That’s how I signed with them.”
At Alcorn, Walia was successful just as she has been at ULM thus far. In her debut tournament, she won. In the second tournament of the second semester, she won. With all that success, though, Walia could not see herself going professional at Alcorn.
“We had a part-time coach there. So, we didn’t have anything like a schedule, we didn’t have workouts. That’s another reason I decided to leave, there was no proper program in place. My dream is to go pro, obviously after I get my degree but I didn’t see myself going pro while at Alcorn,” Walia said.
Walia’s professional aspiration was unlikely from the beginning as Zambia did not have a deep history of golf until their first President, Kenneth Kaunda. For Walia, the story does not end there though as if her grandfather then father did not play, her brother would not have played who brought her into the game.
“[My brother] is the reason why I started playing golf. My dad used to play golf, my dad was introduced by my late granddad. My late granddad played golf. He was in the Zambian National Army.”
Walia’s golf journey did not stop there, though. As she started out the desire for trophies.
“He’s the reason I started playing, I wanted to actually do ballet but we couldn’t find a ballet school. He comes home with a bunch of trophies one of these days and I’m like ‘I want trophies too.’”
Walia’s journeywas far from over. She had to make it to America first. Once she did, she hit even more road bumps along the way.
Her brother, Albany State senior golfer, Abhinav Walia has been supportive the whole way.
“It’s been heartwarming and humbling to have seen how far she’s climbed the ladder and perhaps, she’s even gotten ahead of me. It’s definitely inspiring but also affirmative of the hard work beats talent adagé. I am probably more excited for her wins than she is,” Abhinav said.
Coming to ULM was never set in stone either, though. Walia needed a full-ride to be able to afford to come to ULM. Former ULM coach and now Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Joni Stephens helped make that happen. Walia’s desire to come to ULM came from playing Monroe’s home tournament.
“I played the home tournament that we have here. I played it last year and finished tenth, we had our dinner in the library on the seventh floor. I had a look and was like this looks like a good school, it’s got a good location,” Walia said.
Walia sees herself getting her degree and then helping create a better atmosphere for golf in her country.
“ I’m going to get a degree and go pro and I want to set up a golf foundation in Zambia. To make sure that we have everything that we need for golfers to get into the international level while they’re at home.”
Her brother and her share this same goal and for Abhinav his dream is even helping her.
“Absolutely and I intend to see my professional through to the PGA tour. I always said if we both don’t make it, one of us will, and if it happens to be my sister, then I’ll be her caddy. I definitely want to grow the game of golf, and sports in general back home.”
By all signs, ULM may have a bright future in the golfing world with this superstar on the team.