This Friday, Grace’s women’s golf team will take its first official swing as a collegiate program.
The Lady Lancers field a roster of eight freshmen and two upperclassmen for their maiden season.
Head coach Denny Duncan admitted the year would be one of adjustments but also one brimming with excitement. “We are starting the year with tremendous anticipation. We’ve spent the last 14 months in preparation for this moment, so everything is new and exciting.”
Duncan has recruited a talented unit, albeit one without a swing of collegiate experience. Lauren Keiser, who was the program’s first signing, and Libby Tully will likely play as Grace’s top two in the fall after impressing in the preseason.
The other freshmen — April Bishop, Amanda Gifford, Stevie Luebbert, Emily McDermit, Aspen Rogers and Rylee Wolendowski — were successful at the high school level, but Duncan knows that college brings a unique set of challenges.
“This will be a year of adjustment and growth. The difference between high school and collegiate golf is significant. The courses are significantly more challenging, and the ladies are also adjusting to college life away from home,” Duncan said. “To reach their potential, they will need to manage all of these changes well.”
To help with the transition, Duncan will look to the two upperclassmen on the team this fall. Juniors Kate Adams (NorthWood) and Alex Noppert (Warsaw) will provide a “unique form of leadership as they help our younger girls adjust to college life,” Duncan explained.
Overall, the team hopes for growth at each step of the journey this year. The Crossroads League will field nine teams for the biggest showing in the sport’s history. The CL Championships will take place in the spring with the winner receiving an automatic berth to the NAIA National Championships.
Regardless of the scores on the courses this year, the 2015 season will be memorable simply because it is the first.
“It’s impossible to describe how excited we are to get the year started,” Duncan said. “Our lack of experience will be a challenge, but our enthusiasm and focus will make up for that. We have a fabulous group of young women, and we’re expecting great things on and off the course.”
The Lady Lancers’ program-opening tournament is Friday and Saturday with the IWU Invitational at Arbor Trace Golf Club. Grace will play two home matches at Stonehenge Golf Club, Sept. 15 and Oct. 2.