Despite having to miss Raya at home, Zulaikah Nasser is pumped up for maiden NCAA Regionals with the Bearkats of Sam Houston State

Instead of preparing for Hari Raya in the last few days of Ramadan, Zulaikah Nasser will be on the golf course playing for the Sam Houston State University women’s golf team at the NCAA Regionals.

This will be the 19-year-old’s first appearance in the Regionals with the Bearkats, as the university’s sports teams are known. Zulaikah and her team-mates earned their place in the Baton Rouge Regional with a runaway win in the Southland Conference Championship at Mystic Creek in Arkansas last month, where she finished T7.

“I’m extremely excited about the Regionals … our team is such a young team and our coaches are THE best. We’re just very lucky and so grateful and so blessed that we get to be in the Regionals, and go up against schools that are amazing,” said Zulaikah, who joined the university in Hunstville, Texas, in August 2019.

The Bearkats will start as 14th seeds at the University Club at LSU, Los Angeles on May 10-12, one of four regional venues. The top six teams and three lowest-scoring individuals not on those teams from each regional advance to the blue-ribbon NCAA National Championship later this month.

Zulaikah and the Bearkats with the Southland Conference trophy

Zulaikah is hopeful that they will be among the qualifiers for the NCAA National Championship, which takes place on May 21-26 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“We have a very good team, I believe in every single one of us and I think we have the potential of going through to Nationals. I pray and hope that we don’t think about it during the Regionals and just let our games do the talking!

“I have very high hopes for this team and hopefully we can make it to the Nationals,” said Zulaikah, who is in her sophomore (second) academic year with Sam Houston State but is a freshman on the golf team.

College life, Zulaikah shared, has been a fun and educational experience for her so far despite missing home initially.

“I am enjoying college life, it’s very different from being back home. There’s  a lot of things I had to adjust to because I’m an only child and I had a hard time being away from my parents. But college life has thought me a lot and I’m really enjoying it.

“What I enjoy most is getting to know the girls, getting to know the coaches and just learning a lot about the States. Being in Texas, there’s so many things that I didn’t know and the weather … you have to check the weather app every single day! And just college in general, how to balance studies and golf is very important,” noted Zulaikah, who enjoyed a decorated junior career in Malaysia before heading to the United States.

Celebrating dad Nasser’s birthday last September 16

Zulaikah noted that she will miss spending Hari Raya at home with dad Nasser and mum Nur Aisyah for the first time.

“I’m definitely going to miss my mum’s cooking! Obviously every daughter is going to say that their mum’s cooking is the best, but I cannot lie … she does cook the best food!

“That’s one thing that I’m going to miss, and just buying Raya clothes, being with my family, going to my Grandma’s house. I have a very small family so I’m going to miss that Raya morning, where we have food and just talk … that’s what I’m going to miss the most,” said Zulaikah, adding that her mum’s Briyani and grandma’s cookies are her fave Raya foods.

To get a little bit of the Raya festive feel on campus, Zulaikah said that she and her Indonesian roommate and Bearkats teammate, Viera Permata Rosada, might plan a small potluck party.

“Viera’s also Muslim so she’s also going to be celebrating Raya away from her family. We might just have a little get-together before I fly back and include the girls here. They’re like family to us and we want to share with them what we celebrate at home, because they don’t know anything about it.

“I’m going to attempt to cook something, maybe some chicken! It’s not going to be like home but at least we will have a few dishes, we can bake together and have some cookies, and just have that little Raya feel.”

To watch the full interview, catch The Sweet Spot Episode 5: American Dreams by clicking on this link:

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