May 7, 2010
West Lafayette, Ind. - Paula Reto is not like a lot of collegiate golfers; instead of learning the sport at a young age, Reto began her career as a freshman in high school. It is a testament to her athleticism that she was able to earn a college scholarship at Purdue after just four years of playing golf.
Before her freshman year of high school, Reto lived with her parents and three siblings in Cape Town, South Africa, where field hockey is one of the most popular sports. In 2005, the family moved to Coral Springs, Fla., where she found it difficult to find a field hockey team that matched her skill level. Her father suggested she try golf.
"It was kind of slow for me at first, but I decided to play in high school," Reto said. "I made the team but wasn't that good. I just started practicing more and more. After a while I liked it, but didn't think I was ever going to be good enough to play college golf."
Despite her late start with the sport, Reto was able to translate her hockey swing into a golf swing. And it was a job at a Florida golf club that hosted the Big Ten Match Play Championships that introduced her to Purdue head coach Devon Brouse.
"I thought I was going to go to a small school (in Florida) that had a golf team but wasn't that good," Reto said. "Then, one of the club members introduced me to coach Brouse. Eventually, I talked to him and said I would come to Purdue. I had never even visited campus."
Reto did know that Purdue was a good school and her parents were supportive of her choice. Now that she's at Purdue, she's focusing on continuously improving her game, but also on her academics.
"I really love the game of golf, but first I want to get an education and then I'm going to try to play pro," she said. "I'm going to give myself a year after college and see how it goes. The amount of things I learned in the first year was amazing, so I think there's only more progression afterwards. But education is first."