After 29 seasons, Coach Velvet Milkman is announcing her retirement from the Murray State women's golf program, one that she founded in the fall of 1993 and since has been the only coach the Racers have ever had.
"I have been very blessed to be the women's golf coach at Murray State University for the past twenty-nine years," Milkman said. "It has been an incredible experience to start the golf program at Murray State and the experience has been rewarding to have achieved goals both on and off the field of competition. Our success has been a factor of the adequate resources provided by Murray State University, the incredible people associated with our program, and our donor base. I am forever grateful for all the administrators, staff, coaches, colleagues and donors who have been supportive and instrumental to our program and me during my time at Murray State. I am especially grateful for all the incredible student athletes that I have had the privilege to coach and mentor during my career and who have deeply affected my life. I believe now is the best time for me to step away and spend more time with my family. I have enjoyed my time at Murray State and will forever be a Racer."
"Coach Velvet Milkman is synonymous with success, class and character," said Murray State President, Dr. Bob Jackson. "She epitomizes everything a university could want in a winning coach and athletic program. For 29 years, she has competed at the highest level and is recognized as one of the finest coaches in the country. Most importantly, Velvet has been a teacher, role model and mentor to numerous student-athletes on and off the course and has left an indelible mark on Murray State University. I wish Velvet and Martin all the best in their retirement."
"Velvet's impact on women's golf, the athletics department and Murray State University is both immeasurable and irreplaceable," said Kevin Saal, Murray State Director of Athletics. "For nearly three decades, Velvet has mentored thousands of student-athletes, built a nationally competitive golf program and ushered our department through a tremendous growth journey. Velvet's mentorship doesn't stop with student-athletes, as she's selflessly invested in coaches, administrators and staff throughout our department, within our league, regionally and nationally. While Velvet Milkman is the winningest OVC Championship Coach in Murray State University history, her greatest achievement resides in the young people she has mentored and her impact on Murray State University beyond the golf course. With heavy but full hearts, we wish Velvet and Martin the absolute best on their journey ahead, and thank them both for their dedication, sacrifice and love for Murray State University and the Department of Athletics."
With a deep love for the game and Murray State, Milkman made the women's golf program one of the top points of pride for the university. Her positive impact at MSU, on the sport of golf, and women's athletics cannot be over-stated. In 29 seasons, every one of the four-year student-athletes under Coach Milkman's care graduated and won an Ohio Valley Conference championship."
Milkman is the all-time leader at Murray State with 12 OVC Championships, her longevity spanned an amazing 22 years between her first title in 1997 and the last in 2019. Her Racer teams dominated by winning the OVC championship three consecutive times on three different occasions (1997-99), (2002-04) and (2017-19). The Racers finished runner up five times and placed outside of the top-3 only five times in 28 OVC championship appearances. The Racers made seven NCAA appearances under Coach Milkman by competing in team play regionals including Columbus, Ohio (2009),Velvet Milkman Columbus, Indiana (2010), Tallahassee, Florida (2014), Lubbock, Texas (2017), Madison, Wisc. (2018) and Auburn, Ala. (2019). In 2022, Payton Carter became the first MSU and OVC player to play as an individual when she competed at the Franklin, Tenn. NCAA regional. Holmslykke became the first golfer from Murray State and the OVC to advance to the NCAA Championship in 2019.
Historic programs are made by great players and Coach Milkman was able to recruit and develop eight different student-athletes that combined to win 10 OVC Player of the Year honors. That impressive list includes Jenny Daag (1998, 1999), Cuyler Hedley (2002), Lee Anne Pace (2003), Nikki Orazine (2004, 2005), Delaney Howson (2014), Moa Folke (2017), Linette Holmslykke (2019) and Payton Carter (2022). In 12 OVC team championships, Milkman's Racers had eight players produce 10 medalist winners at the OVC championship including Daag (1998, 1999), Hedley (2002), Pace (2003), Orazine (2004), Howson (2014), Folke (2016, 2017), Anna Moore (2019) and Carter (2022).
The Racers also performed at a championship level in the classroom with 35 winners of the OVC Medal of Honor signifying perfect 4.0 GPA's. Delaney Howson (2014) won the OVC Scholar Athlete Award and the Racers won the OVC Academic Achievement Award four times (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008). Milkman's teams produced six student-athletes that were named the top graduate in their field of study including Jesse Widman-Economics (2000), Ilka Loubser- Finance (2006), Ashley Kelbough - Outdoor Recreation (2006), Delaney Howson - Finance (2014), Sophie Hillier – Finance (2016) and Linette Holmslykke – Finance (2019), who also won the coveted NCAA Elite 90 Award in 2019.
Milkman served for 18 years as senior woman administrator for MSU Athletics and led the department as interim athletics director from July 2018 through February 2019. She was one of the leaders in shaping women's golf at the NCAA level and served a four-year term (2009-12) on the NCAA Women's Golf Committee including two years as chair.
With more honors certainly to come that will bring more attention to her outstanding career, Coach Milkman was honored in 2022 with the Gladys Palmer Service Award, presented by the Women's Golf Coaches Association's (WGCA).