One goal, one team, one chance. The girls golf team will have a shot to win their second straight sectional title at Valley View Golf Course this Saturday.
The team made history last year at sectionals winning their first title in school history. The girls were led by senior Holly Roth who shot an 82 at Valley View. The Bulldogs beat Floyd Central by eight shots with a whopping 353. Roth was the only player to graduate last year, meaning that the Dogs return four of their five players.
This year, sophomore Heidi Steinert will lead the Bulldogs playing number one for the team. Other returning members from the sectional team include: Haley Roth, Bailey Biggs, and Franci Burton. The only newcomer is freshman Chloe Watts. Last year Steinert played in the third position and believes that her experience will help her this year.
“I know how big of a deal it [Sectionals] is now and how important it is to our team,” Steinert said.
Steinert and her coach, Rick Belcher, agree that experience plays a role in determining the outcome of sectionals. Having the experience of being there and doing it several times is a big deal.
“It’s HUGE, because you’re used to it and you’ve been there,” Belcher said. “You can handle the pressure better.”
Belcher believes that the more you play the less you think about the pressure and just play. He says the juniors and seniors will typically handle pressure better than the underclassmen. He says that playing in sectionals as a sophomore may be the hardest because players are still young and they now realize how high the stakes are.
Playing as number one for their team for the first time would feel intimidating and pressured for some, but Steinert thrives it in.
“I play really well under pressure and with a crowd, so I’m hoping it’ll be a good day!” Steinert said.
Sectionals can be extremely nerve-racking. As a freshman one can be pushed to do better than maybe they can. One is new to everything and still learning the ropes. According to Steinert, the most important thing is to stay optimistic.
“Don’t get down on yourself, just stay positive,” Steinert said. “You’re just as important to the team as the upper-classmen.”
Leadership is very important to some teams, but others just need to work together as a whole. Senior Bailey Biggs says that while she is the only senior on the team, she doesn’t necessarily consider herself the sole leader.
“I feel that we are all the leaders to be honest. When one of us is down or having a tough day, the rest of us try to encourage her to get back on track,” Biggs said.
For seniors, it is their last shot at a sectional title, and truly is a great way to finish off ones last year. Biggs hopes that the girls can get the job done, so she can have the same feeling as Roth had last year.
“It would be the most amazing feeling (to win). Giving that to Holly last year was a great way to end her senior year, so I hope I can have the same type of luck,” Biggs said.
How big of a part was Holly Roth to the team? Belcher believes that having Roth for another year would make his feelings about sectionals totally different.
“It is pretty big, if we had her back this year we would be ridiculously good – but Heidi fills in the spot well,” Belcher said.
As for expectations Steinert, Belcher and Biggs believe that the team can at very least come in the top three again.
“I would love to see us have another sectional win for the team,” Steinert said, “It will be a tough fight between us and Floyd Central but I think we can handle it.”
“My expectations for my team is to be one of the top three teams so that we can move onto regionals like we did last year,” Biggs said, “I know we can.”
Belcher’s goal is for the girls to play like he knows they can. It will be a tough battle though.
“FC is the team to beat – we can beat them but we will need to play really good,” Belcher said.
These girls are all trying to grab a little bit more of New Albany girls golf history. A second all-time sectional title is at stake and second in a row. No matter what happens, Steinert says she is happy about the way the season has gone.
“I’m very proud of our girls and how we’ve been playing this season,” Steinert said. “We really miss Holly being here as our leader but we are so happy to have freshman Chloe Watts as our wing girl. We love her.”