By JAMIE BAKER
At the end of last season, Findlay High School girls golf coach Jordan Fields was apprehensive to say the least.
The Trojans had just four players in the entire program, the minimum number to compete as a team in matches. Two of those players, Emma Harris and Jade Smith, were seniors and would be graduating in the spring.
“We had two girls back and there just wasn’t a whole lot of interest at the high school. So, yeah, I was a little concerned,” said Fields, who assumed his head coaching role in mid-August of last season.
“There was some unknown interest in the middle school and we had four girls who moved up from Donnell come out. All are good friends and we have a sophomore and junior who decided to come out, too. It kind of came out of nowhere but I’m very happy about it.”
Fields wasn’t the only one pleased with an infusion of a new group of young golfers into the program. Returning seniors Chloe Holliday and Carsyn Kouns were relieved as well.
If no girls were willing to join Holliday and Kouns this season, a backup plan was for them to play with the boys team this season.
“I’ll admit, it was little worrying. If we would have had to play with the boys team I wouldn’t have played,” admitted Kouns.
“But it all worked out and we have a brand new team and a bunch of great girls with great attitudes that have never played golf before, so it is a bit different from last year.
“We’re excited to see where the season takes us not just as a golf team but as a friend group too,” she added.
Holliday, meanwhile, would have played with the boys if she had to.
She, Kouns and Fields have done what they can in the scant few days prep golf teams get to prepare for the season to get the newcomers up to speed to play in the team’s opening week of matches.
“It’s been an interesting couple of days trying to get them ready so quickly for our first match. They all have super attitudes about golf. They don’t complain, they just do it. If we give them tips or try and tweak their swing a little bit they are all for it,” Holliday said.
“One of my goals is just to teach them the game as best I can, so that the next four years they can be as successful as possible. We’re all trying to set the foundation for Findlay girls golf for the future.”
At least right now, as far as scores and tournament finishes go, the future probably will be a bit brighter than the present.
While the Trojans have a pair of experienced veterans in Holliday and Kouns, the rest of the squad is as green as Findlay Country Club’s watered fairways.
Holliday posted an 81-stroke average for 18 holes for the Trojans a year ago. She was the team’s top golfer in a few matches as a junior while earning first-team all-Northwest Ohio Girls Golf League and second-team all-Three Rivers Athletic Conference honors.
Fields anticipates a solid year from Holliday this season.
“I expect a lot from Chloe and she expects a lot from herself. She shot a personal-best 75 in her first tournament of the year. Shooting that to start the season puts her expectations super high,” said Fields, who thinks Holliday has a shot at breaking Findlay High’s girls scoring record of 72.
“Her mental game is fantastic. Week in and week out she plays against some of the toughest competition in the state with our matches in the TRAC and NWOGGL. I don’t have to coach her much, I just chat with her and see how she’s doing and she takes care of the rest.”
It’s hoped Kouns can pick up right where she left off last season.
She averaged a 109 during Findlay’s regular season matches and shot one of her best rounds of the year, a 96, at sectionals.
“Carsyn peaked last year at sectionals. She played bogey golf this summer and I think we’ll see a definite improvement in her scores this year,” Fields said.
“We had three days of tryouts and they did a nice job of walking some of their younger teammates through some of the finer points of the game. When we played in our first match I saw the girls doing some things I didn’t teach them yet, so I know they are already picking things up from Chloe and Carsyn.”
The rest of the Findlay girls golf roster includes junior Daniell Moss, sophomore Cameron Heiserman and freshmen Cate Rummel, Abby Powell, Michaela McNamara and Sydney Eynon.
“They are all young kids, I know Sydney’s grandpa helped her some, but for most of them, June was the first time they ever picked up a club,” Fields said of his incoming players’ inexperience.
“We had some camps during the summer and most of them got to most of those. There’s definitely some potential. You’ll get a shot that’s great, followed by a few that aren’t. But they have a lot of potential and a great attitude about it. They are very positive when I check in with them. They are willing to try and listen to us as coaches.”
“The biggest thing is that I have a team next year and in years to come. Now, we want to add more. I don’t have to panic in the future because I think we have a core group of young girls who are going to stick with it. With the freshmen and sophomores we have it’s going to give us a chance to develop these golfers and build the program. We want to get Findlay girls golf back to where it’s been in the past,” he added.
As far as goals, for the Findlay girls golf program it may be a case of start small and finish the season big.
“I just want to see us drop some strokes throughout the season and gradually get better,” Fields said.