The start of a new season for a head coach tends to involve building off the successes of the season prior and flushing the failures. Coaches look to form relationships with the team’s new faces and expect their returning players to act as an extension of themselves.
For men’s and women’s golf head coach Mike Greer, his experience to start this season was slightly different. Greer is beginning his fourth year as head coach of the men’s team, but this past July, Greer took over the women’s team after Meghan Sobotta stepped down.
Both teams began practicing prior to classes starting on campus, and Greer said he has spent the early parts of the season getting to know his new women golfers as if they were all incoming freshman.
Greer inherits a reigning WIAC championship team, and he said they have their sights on a two-peat.
“These girls know what it takes to win a WIAC Championship,” Greer said. “That experience and leadership is extremely valuable.”
The bulk of experience stems from the team’s four seniors, Kate Engler, Samantha Dvorsak, Mandi Salo and Emily Stone.
Engler, an All-American last season, leads the charge for the Blugolds as she is a three-time letter-winner and last year’s WIAC Player of the Year.
“Kate brings experience and a winning attitude,” Greer said. “She has the competitive drive, wants to win and it shows in how she approaches the game.”
Being the head coach of two programs is a new experience for Greer ,and he said in the future he hopes to avoid scheduling conflicts, but this past weekend it simply could not have been done.
The men’s team had a tournament in Minnesota while the women traveled to Iowa. With Greer unable to be in two different states at once, he said both tournaments would not have gone smoothly if not for assistant coach Zach Ziemann.
Ziemann was hired as a full-time assistant for the men’s team this season and sophomore Joey Dreier said he hasn’t noticed a difference between last season and this year because of the quality of coach Ziemann is.
He said Ziemann is awesome to have on the coaching staff and it has been a huge help having him at every practice.
The men’s team had their first competition this past weekend and though Dreier lead the Blugolds tying for seventh, the story was freshman Patrick Conroy, who finished tied for 12th with 148 strokes.
“Patrick came in and stepped up to the plate right away,” Dreier said. “He is one of the smartest golfers on the team.”
Dreier said the team has four new freshman on the team and they all came ready to play.
The men’s golf team has had a recent history of freshman golfers making immediate impacts. When young talent flourishes early in collegiate programs it is usually an indicator of strong leadership within the team.
Greer said the men’s team has been fortunate to have two great leaders come through the program. Last year it was Ben Brooks and this season the Blugolds are lead by senior captain Jake Erickson.
“Jake is not afraid to lead by example but also to let the team know our expectations and what we need to do to achieve our goals,” Greer said.
Erickson will lead the Blugolds into action this weekend as they travel back to Minnesota for the Saint John’s Fall Invitational at Greystone Golf Club, while the women’s team will compete in the Division III Midwest Classic.