M.J. Kamin, Nattapan Siritrai fit seamlessly with ISU women’s golf


Korrie Bysted/Iowa State Daily

Nattapan Siritrai, freshman on the ISU women’s golf team, practices her swing Sept. 2.

Mike Randleman

After losing four members from last season’s top-25 team, it would be easy to assume that rebuilding team chemistry for the ISU women’s golf team would take some time.

Despite the new roster, incoming freshmen M.J. Kamin and Nattapan “New” Siritrai are already fitting in like seasoned veterans after a week on campus.

“I love them, it’s so exciting,” said junior Cajsa Persson as she embraced Siritrai in a hug. “They have so much energy, both of them. It’s kind of crazy, I saw these girls a week ago for the first time and I feel like I’ve known them for so much longer.”

Their first chance to make an impact in competition will not come until Sept. 15 at the Dick McGuire Invitational, but the two newcomers have impressed teammates and coaches thus far in practice.

“They all seem like they’re getting along great; the chemistry has been really good. It’ll be exciting to have Celia [Barquin, the third freshman who arrived to Ames on Sept. 2] come and add her into that,” said assistant coach Pina Gentile. “So far it’s been great. Our upperclassmen have been doing a great job helping everybody feel a part of everything.”

Siritrai, a Bangkok, Thailand, native, is learning to adapt to life in the United States and is still getting the hang of the English language. But she has two Thai teammates to lean on — sophomore Pimrawee Huang and senior Chonlada Chayanun — as well as the rest of her supporting cast.

“With New, she’s done a phenomenal job being a part of everything,” Gentile said. “She’s awesome. When she has questions or needs anything she’s comfortable going up to just about anybody.”

Siritrai has plenty of international experience that includes a win at the 2013 Sixth Singha-SAT Thai LPGA Championship and competed as a member of the Thailand national team in high school.

Kamin, an Iowa native, lacks the international pedigree of Siritrai but could be the best athlete on the team.

Kamin earned letters in basketball, cross country, golf and soccer at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“I just decided that [golf] was my favorite thing to do, probably the thing that I was best at and that was something I wanted to spend my summers doing, not playing indoor basketball and not playing soccer,” Kamin said.

The three-time all-state competitor initially had her sights on opting for a warmer weather school but decided to remain in her home state to pursue her future in golf as well as construction engineering.

“As time went by, it became evident that this was the right place for me to be,” Kamin said. “The facilities were great. I wanted to do engineering and this is a great school for engineering. I met the team and knew that they lost some players but that there was a lot of upside. I just really liked the atmosphere.”

Gentile and head coach Christie Martens have yet to determine a starting five for the season’s first event, but with a roster of just six golfers, Kamin and Siritrai will likely be summoned early on to contribute.

“I think that they’re both going to be ready to contribute, for sure, at the start of it,“ Gentile said. “As the course of the season goes on, everyone’s going to continue to get better, but I think they’ll definitely be ready.”