By: John Miller
Through team cohesion and a young, gifted core of players, MSUM women’s golf believes it is building something special.
Head coach Chelsey McGinnis said she was excited and anxious heading into the season. She had a young team with one returning junior, two sophomores and four incoming freshmen.
Despite the inexperienced team, McGinnis was impressed by how her golfers performed as the season carried on.
“We basically were starting a new chapter in Dragon golf,” McGinnis said. “As the season progressed, I was humbled by the positivity, grit, passion and character each of the girls showed me.”
McGinnis said it didn’t take long for the girls to form chemistry. They quickly created friendships and a support group as many of them were just beginning their collegiate athletic and academic careers. Returning members stepped up as team leaders as well.
“The biggest strength of our team is without a doubt our bond,” McGinnis said. “The girls have found something special. With golf having a small team aspect, that is very rare. If they can continue to bond off the course, there is no telling what they can do on the course in the future.”
However, McGinnis would like to see the girls improve in the mental part of the game by building confidence in their own abilities. She is certain every member of the team has potential to do something special in their collegiate golf career.
This offseason, there will be an emphasis on improving mental toughness and finding what drives them.
“Golf is such a beautiful game because each athlete is different mentally,” McGinnis said. “What keeps them focused? What keeps their confidence? We’ll be breaking down each player to best find how to prepare them for an upcoming tournament or how to keep them focused in a practice session.”
On top of growing in the mental part of golf, the team will emphasize workouts this offseason. They’ll focus on core strength and stamina to help endure a six-hour round without issue.
After meeting Kiana Baker, McGinnis knew the Dragons needed her. She was thrilled when Baker announced she wanted to golf at MSUM.
“When Kiana Baker informed me she wanted to come play at MSUM, the excitement I had was overwhelming,” McGinnis said. “Her swing is smooth and the confidence she has when she lets it go is refreshing. She is driven and excited about her future. Now that she has those first few tournaments under her belt, it’s time to grind.”
Baker emerged as one of the Dragons’ most talented golfers. Her 91.3 average per-round score was the best on the team.
The Dragons did not finish in the top three in any tournaments this season, however, Baker was happy with the effort put in by MSUM.
“I feel like everyone worked really hard to do their best, therefore I think we did well as a team,” Baker said.
Overall, Baker was satisfied with her individual performance, but admitted there is always room for improvement. Specifically, she will be working on her core strength and short game. She will go to both indoor and outdoor driving ranges throughout the offseason.
For the team to be a contender in meets next season, Baker said it’s going to have to start with each person’s drive.
“I believe if the team stays motivated and each individual has a goal for themselves to work towards, I can see us taking the next step.”