Cabajar returning to Vikings
Jasmine Cabajar, like many others in her situation, has some unfinished business to take care of at Portland State University.
The 2016 Maui High School graduate and two-time Maui Inter-scholastic League girls golf champion recently found out that she will get the chance to complete her promising senior season that was cut short in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I got offered to come back for another year, and kind of the same scholarship,” Cabajar said Tuesday. “So, I’m going to go back for another year to play for Portland State.”
Cabajar was just about a week away from getting on a plane with her PSU team to compete in the Anuenue Spring Break Classic hosted by the University of Hawaii and played at the Kapalua Bay Course before everything was halted.
Instead, her plane ride home was by herself and filled with unknowns about the future.
Now, the Spring Break Classic in on the docket again for the Vikings, and Cabajar will be near the top of the roster.
The news that PSU was able to work out the financing of Cabajar’s scholarship comes with some positive consequences. Her fellow senior Valerie Hernandez will also be back and Cabajar will be able to add a second degree with the extra year.
She delayed graduating with the pre-clinical health studies bachelor’s degree that she is near completing so she could add one in applied health and fitness during the 2020-21 academic year.
She plans to become a physical therapist after her golf career is over. A shot at professional golf is not out of the question for the 5-foot-1 Cabajar, who also was a standout basketball player for the Sabers.
With team and individual titles in the Big Sky Conference tournament on her to-do list, Cabajar was relieved to hear the news that the finances that would enable her return to PSU had been worked out.
“I’m just super excited for the good news,” Cabajar said. “After hearing that my senior-year season was canceled halfway, that was like the best news I could get. I’m just happy to go back for another year and hopefully get to meet some goals and finish off with a good note.”
The Vikings played in Honolulu during Cabajar’s freshman year and she asked coach Kailin Downs then: “Can I go to Maui my senior year? We tried to go my junior year and then she changed it to my senior year. It hasn’t happened yet.”
Downs said the Vikings are back in the Kapalua spring break event next year and she is overjoyed that Cabajar will be with the team.
“When we got the news in the middle of our spring season we were all devastated,” Downs said. “It kind of unraveled and we obviously knew our season was over and then it was pretty instantly just devastation for everybody, but especially the seniors.”
After the NCAA cleared the way for spring sports to grant another year of eligibility, Downs went to work to bring back her two team leaders.
“I approached both of them to see if they were interested and both of them were,” Downs said. “So, I said: ‘I for sure want you back, I just have to check with the school and figure out what that looks like from our end, to see if this is going to be a possibility.’ It took me a couple weeks to figure out the financial aspect of it and luckily I was given the green light to do what I could do within my budget numbers.
“I was able to work something out with both of them that they were happy with and I’m happy to have them back. Frankly, I’m not ready for them to leave in a year from now either.”
Cabajar’s biography on the Vikings’ website shows that she is one of the team’s best all-time.
Despite injuries to her shoulders and an ankle that will likely require surgery when she is done, Cabajar has played in every event in her four-year career.
She is ranked third in school history in rounds played (116), fourth in career scoring average (75.07), fifth in career rounds under par (12), eighth in team tournament scoring leader (11) and second in career birdies (229).
She earned all-Big Sky honors all three previous seasons, including second team as a junior when she finished third in the conference tournament, one shot out of a playoff.
With three promising incoming freshmen, the Vikings have an NCAA regional berth in mind, which would most likely require winning the Big Sky tournament to gain an automatic qualifying spot.
For a while, it seemed that the opportunity might have been gone for Cabajar as Downs’ scoured her budget to find the money to fund her seniors’ return.
“I’m just very, very, very grateful for the opportunity to come back,” Cabajar said. “I don’t even know how it happened, but I’m happy it did.”
Cabajar could not have imagined going back without Hernandez, the teammate she started at PSU with — the two have been roommates ever since.
“It definitely would not have been the same because we’ve been in this since the beginning,” Cabajar said. “I’m very glad that me and Valerie get to go back and finish off together, it will be amazing.”
Said Downs: “I feel really optimistic about next year, especially having those two back. Jasmine and Valerie, without a doubt, have been, well, arguably the best duo to ever come through our program. They have been extremely steady and reliable players for me.
“And then on top of the golf and the scores, they have been great ambassadors and people. Their influence on our team is huge. So, I feel really good about our chances next year with them coming back in addition to the incoming players.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org.