Now entering his 12th season with the Paris varsity girl's golf team, Jeremy Skinner knows how fortunate he is to have returning upperclassman Sharron Schoonover.
"I expect Sharron to lead us this year. She has been playing a lot of golf the past couple of years and it looks to really be paying off," said Skinner. "She was a good ball striker last year. Very inconsistent on the scoring end. She broke the school record for career birdies with all four coming her junior year, but failed to make it to sectionals. This year I expect her to make it to state. Hopefully she'll be joined by another teammate or two."
The other foundation for this programs 2017 efforts will be Amber Chapman. Last season she was forced to the forefront because of participation numbers, but this year, while she'll still be leading the pack, this time around its because she wants to and not because she has to.
"We have two fourth-year seniors that should lead our team. Amber Chapman is entering her fourth year and looks to be in tune with her game," Skinner said. "She is getting to the point that when she makes a mistake she can diagnose and fix it. I look forward to seeing how it plays out in her scoring."
Sophomores Aurea Rucker and Katelyn McGinness are back from a year ago for the Lady Coyotes, as well. The difference is now this duo has a year of experience to draw from when they start going up against the rest of the Eastern Missouri Conference.
"We have two sophomores that now have a year under their belts," Skinner said. "Rucker and McGinness were put in a tough spot last year and I was really impressed with how they handled it," said Skinner. "They both worked hard and practiced on their own time all while having a great attitude. I have already seen a big improvement from them this year so with their improvement it gives me confidence in our team’s ability to compete on the team level."
The final ingredients that make up this winning recipe are a handful of freshmen vying for playing time. This means the lessons learned this year could very well pay dividends later in the season or at some point in the future.
"We also have four promising freshmen, Nicole Skinner, Charlie Vitt, Sidney Price and Andrea Callison, that should learn from the older girls so when our seniors graduate we should be able to pick up where we left off from this year," said Skinner. "We have only been practicing for two weeks but they are already showing some very good potential. This gives me a confidence in the future even though we are losing our two seniors after this year."
One factor Skinner and this team will be looking to rectify this season is that Paris didn't win any matches in 2016. Schoonover did earn medalist honors several times, though, giving this team a base of operations to launch their efforts from.
"This year as a team we should be much more competitive than last year when we only had four players and two of them had never picked up a club before the first practice," said Skinner. "The sophomores did a great job, but it's a lot to ask of someone who has never played before to compete on the varsity level right away. I want to teach the students how to play the game so they can enjoy it for the rest of their lives, whether it is competing against friends or just enjoying some outdoor exercise."