Tuesday, December 31, 2019

19 for 2019: Varsity Girls' Golf Team: My Freshman Year

New school, new team, new program, new coach. Though I have coached high school sports for nearly twenty years now, this Fall, I carried the title of varsity coach for the first time. Varsity sports in secondary schools—on every level and among every sport, are not what they were when I was in high school. Just yesterday, someone asked me if I actually coach as a golf coach. He said "I know my high school golf coach loved match days because he was able to play." Though familiar with stories such as these I was only slightly amused. We golf coaches have come a long way, baby!
I do not claim to be a swing coach or anything close to an PGA teaching pro, I do play close attention to my golfers and their game—their strengths and areas for improvement. I am seeking to build a culture that helps young women play as a member of a team and working together in a sport that emphasizes the individual score. I hope they will learn the mission of the school and our values through their experience in St. Francis athletics. No small task, but opportunity awaits. And because of that, I decided my team would serve as the final profile in Sports and Spirituality's 19 for 2019.

Some of my students have been among some of my greatest teachers. Some of my athletes have become some of my most inspirational coaches. This paradox makes both teaching and coaching more than a worthy endeavor.

This team taught me many things—for better and for worse. They have exceptional talent. We finished second in the WCAL and took home a trophy for our fourth place finish at CCS. On a team with four seniors, two will go on to play in college (at the University of Michigan and at Williams College). Each one of the them contributed to the character of this crew in their own, unique way.
All of them love golf and of equal importance, one another. Some of my favorite memories included listening to the conversations about golf among the girls. They follow both the LPGA and PGA closely. Any highlight I mentioned from a weekend tournament was met with more detail and insight about the golfer, the intricacy of the shot and even the green—Poa or Bermuda?! 

We compared our preference between a 58 and 60 degree wedge and why some of us carry a 4 or 5 iron in the bag. During a Chapman Scotch competitive practice, my partner told me my ball was 116 yards from the pin, but I should play it more like it's 112. Done. This same golfer won the WCAL championship, finishing two under par, which meant a lot to her personally and to her teammates. One senior was known for driving the green on our home course.....on a par 4. Her strength of body is matched by her humor, kindness and humility. I won't forget a student-athlete like her. We welcomed a freshman up to the varsity squad and it was delightful to witness the way her teammates welcomed her into the fold. She finished the season with WCAL first team honors, indicating that our program has great promise.

I have a few regrets about this past season, and those are important miletsones to learn from. Chief among them is that the photo you see here is only of the varsity team. This year, the JV and varsity crews worked and practiced together. I loved getting to know these up and coming golfers and seeing my own team mentor, befriend and learn from these girls. Not to mention, their coach made my job possible. We are only as strong as—not the weakest link—but as we allow ourselves to be TOGETHER. Go Lancers

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