MHS girls' golf team comes out swinging

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Tue., May. 17, 2011
MHS freshman Samantha Collins takes a swing during the girls' golf team's indoor practice. Photos by Martha Marteney.
MHS freshman Samantha Collins takes a swing during the girls' golf team's indoor practice. Photos by Martha Marteney.

Coach Bob Healy has been with the Manchester High School girls’ golf team for four years. Having learned the sport when he was younger, Healy said, “I want to show the kids the lifetime benefits of golf.” He also feels it is a good balance to coaching the boys’ basketball team in the fall.

Last year, the team lost more games than it won, but showed improvement over the season. In the CCC playoffs, the MHS girls’ golf team beat several teams to which the team had lost during the season. “It was gratifying to keep improving,” noted Healy.

Although in a lot of ways, golf is an individual sport, Healy noted that it is still about the team, because “all your strokes have an impact on the whole team.” According to Healy, at a recent match at Manchester Country Club, the team score was 214, the team's best score yet at that course. The score was based on the top four scores of the five-player team of Amanda Zappulla, Olivia Hebert, Jaime Donner, Chelsey Tinson and Gina Zoef. “Each match, I hope that their nerves will get a little more relaxed,” said Healy.

Healy is always looking to recruit more players, and the team has starter clubs that were donated specifically for the purpose of encouraging more girls to join the team. This year’s team has 10 players, including seniors Colleen Guinan, Hebert, Melissa Kiamie and Zappulla.

“She’s our best golfer,” Healey said of Great Path Academy junior Donner, who has been golfing since her freshman year. It helps that Donner practices with her whole family.

The MHS physical education department recently purchased new golf mats. Co-captain Hebert noted that not a lot of schools have the mats, which the team uses for indoor practice during inclement weather.

Senior co-captain Amanda  Zappulla joined the MHS team her sophomore year. “The thing that really got me to stay was the sense of unity on our team,” said Zappulla. “We’re all really supportive. There’s never a bad day here.” After winning the match against New Britain, Zappulla said, “We’ve improved drastically in just four matches. We’re looking forward to a really good season.” Her favorite club is the pitching wedge because she uses it when she is almost at the green.

“I love my driver,” said senior co-captain Olivia Hebert about her favorite club. “I can whack my ball. I’ve good a pretty good drive. That’s what keeps my score down.” Hebert started playing golf with her grandfather, when she was 5 years old. Now in her second year as co-captain, she recognizes the importance of her role in helping the younger girls and supporting the team. “We’re all silly and play jokes on each other,” she said, “especially during indoor practice.”

Senior Colleen Guinan just started golfing last year. “It’s a relaxing sport,” said Guinan, who joined because her friends were on the team and she thought it looked like fun. “It’s a game of the mind,” she learned. “My body is relaxed, but my mind is racing.” To improve, she tries to hold positive thoughts and have confidence in her golfing abilities. “I’m not the best, but I enjoy it and I’m improving.”

“It’s good to know golf in the business world,” noted senior Melissa Kiamie, who joined the team last year. She also looks forward to being able to play golf with her father and grandfather, and recognizes that golf is a life-long sport. Also, she explained, even if you play the same holes every day, it can be different every day. “It’s a mental sport,” she said, noting that whatever attitude you bring to the course will determine how you play.

Junior Rachel Aronne first took up golf with her father. She finds it can be a quiet time to go into her own sanctum. At the same time, she said, the team is very unified. “We’re all friends and get together after practice,” said Aronne.


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