Swinging For History
Zionsville Girls Golf Wins First-Ever State Championship
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photos provided by ZHS Girls Golf
Last year the Zionsville girls’ golf team advanced to the state finals where they placed fourth. Though that was an impressive accomplishment, this year they set their sights higher and grabbed the trophy, having won the IHSAA Girls Golf State Championship. It is the first state championship for girls golf in the school’s history.
“When they walked off the podium last year in fourth place, I think it clicked in their heads just how good they could be, and they were determined to make this their year,” says head coach Jeff Anderson.
They did that by spending a great deal of time training during the off-season. They lifted weights and engaged in core-strengthening exercises. On cold weather days, they were indoors hitting in bays. When spring rolled around, they played in tournaments.
“These were all things that I didn’t direct them to do. They took the initiative and had the fortitude to go do it all. That’s why they’re so good,” says Anderson, who has been a golf coach for 15 years, having coached girls varsity golf for a decade at Zionsville High School. An avid golfer since he was five years old, he appreciates the lessons the sport provides.
Golf is unique in the sense that it’s both team and individual. Athletes learn how to cope with difficult situations on the fly that not only impact their round but also their teammates.
“That’s been one of the cool things about this group of kids,” Anderson says. “More than any other I’ve ever had, these girls function more like a sisterhood than a team.”
Their bonding is a result of spending countless hours perfecting their sport. Not only did they put in 12 to 14-hour Saturdays between late July and late September, but they played in six 18-hole match tournaments before school even started.
“That’s a lot of golf, but they started to win several of those tournaments,” says Anderson, noting that Westfield was their No.1 friendly rival. Westfield would win a couple of tournaments, then Zionsville would win a few. When Zionsville won the mid-season conference tournament for the first time in school history, the team’s confidence grew and it was reflected in their performance.
“At that point, they began to play solid golf,” says Anderson, who acknowledges that a huge part of the sport is mental. “If you can’t control what’s going on between your ears, you can’t control a little white ball.”
Senior Maggie Nobbe hopes that their state title will inspire young girls to set their goals high. Junior Ellie Hine thinks it will.
“I’ve played with most of these girls since middle school and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come,” she says.
As the season unfolded, Anderson saw consistency in some players and improvement in others.
“They started out strong and finished stronger,” he says.
By the time Zionsville got to the state finals, there were a handful of teams that were in the hunt to win the state title. It all came down to who could put it together during that final weekend. Zionsville finished the first day with a 17-shot lead. The team broke the all-time state record for any sectional tourney with a 284. The previous record was 290.
“To beat a record not just by a shot or two but by six shots is ridiculous,” says Anderson, who has been humbled by the outpouring of support the team has received, not only from Zionsville residents but also from surrounding communities. “It’s really a testament to the fact that these girls are great golfers but even better people.”