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SMC Golf: Moore debuts as Belles coach

Casey Karnes | Friday, August 30, 2013

Saint Mary’s golf leaps back into action this weekend at the Olivet Fall Invitational with a new coach, new depth and new hope.

Kim Moore enters her first season as the Belles’ head coach this fall, succeeding coach Mark Hamilton. Moore brings extensive experience as a golf professional and also has been an assistant golf coach for IPFW. In her own playing days, Moore was a four-time All-Great Lakes Valley Conference honoree. Although she has not even seen her team play in a tournament thus far, they’ve shown enough to impress her.

“We’re definitely going in the right direction. I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” Moore said. “We’ll definitely be competitive, like we are most years.”

Last year, without Moore at the helm, the Belles finished second in the MIAA conference tournament, edging out Hope College by three strokes. Saint Mary’s returns three of their five golfers from last spring’s season in senior Alexi Bown, senior Paige Pollak and junior Janice Heffernan. Coach Moore hopes that the few losses they suffered will be more than cancelled out by an influx of five new freshmen.

“They bring fresh faces to the program … a full team atmosphere,” she said. “In the spring there [were] only five players, so it didn’t bring that competitive team atmosphere that this year is definitely going to bring. And [they bring] some great scores as well, some freshmen will have a chance to come in and play right away.”

In addition to the freshman collection of Courtney Carlson, Rachel Kim, Emmie Schultz and Ali Mahoney, the team also adds sophomores Katie Zielinski and Sammie Averill. Despite the group’s youth, Moore is confident that her senior leaders can help guide their younger teammates.

“Our two seniors [Bown and Pollak] … have shown a lot of leadership out there, great work ethic as well,” Moore said. “They’re showing themselves to be great examples and role models for the underclassmen.”

Bown and Pollack have been rewarded for their leadership by being selected as co-captains by their peers. Their first test will be the Olivet Fall Invitational, hosted by Olivet College. In her first tournament as a head coach and with a team full of freshmen, Moore is preaching calm and focus but knows nerves will be a factor.

“Our plan is to try to take practice onto the golf course … and take one shot at a time,” she said. “In golf, your head can play a big part of the game, and so you really need to take one shot, one hole at a time. I will definitely be nervous. If you don’t have those nervous jitters, then it doesn’t mean enough to you, so it’s a good sign to be nervous. I fully expect my entire team to be nervous.”

The Belles’ will open the season with a starting lineup of Bown, Averill, Pollak, Heffernan, Mahoney and Kim, but the lineup could change throughout the season, Moore said.

Saint Mary’s will be playing at the Olivet Fall Invitational this Saturday and Sunday, with tee-off set for 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 31.

Contact Casey Karnes at [email protected]