Lynn Humphrey's passion for the game of golf is clear.
When the Heathwood Hall coach works with the Highlanders girls, she hopes that her enthusiasm infects them.
"I try to be already out there putting when they get here, so they can see that I enjoy it, that I work at it, and hopefully they will, too," Humphrey said before a recent practice at the Highlanders home course of Hidden Valley in Gaston.
Humphrey's is an excellent example for the Heathwood Hall girls to follow. While some players competed in juniors tournaments during the summer, their coach was cementing her place as one of the area's top amateur golfers. She won the Sonic Women's City Golf Championship in June.
For a woman who sometimes hits golf balls until blisters swell on her palms, the tournament win was a rush.
But so is guiding 10 young golfers toward reaching their full potential - and, possibly, the SCISA state championship.
"We've got a pretty good chance this year," said Humphrey, whose team won the title in 2006 and was state runner-up last year. The Highlanders have tested themselves against public school teams A.C. Flora, Dreher and Chapin in preparation for reclaiming their title.
To that end, Humphrey is trying to instill in her players the kind of comfidence she sees in her opponents on the amateur golf circuit.
"We're starting to see it in some of our girls, as they start to see their potential and progress, they are more willing to work at it," she said.
A prime example is freshman Sallie Cherry, who has shaved nearly 20 strokes off her score this season and is "more driven now because she sees she is on the verge," Humphrey said.
Cherry said Humphrey's coaching style has a lot to do with that improvement.
"She does these drills that really helped me with getting my swings consistent," Cherry said.
Senior Lauren Glazer added, "It's her understanding, coaching us and not forcing it (on) us, that makes us better."
Glazer is one of the Highlanders' most improved golfers and said she and her teammates are aiming for consistency as the Oct. 15 championship approaches .
And as the Highlanders get better, Humphrey is well aware that her proteges might one day be her peers.
"It's wonderful that as long as I've been at Heathwood Hall, I've taught some of these girls as little girls and now I'm getting to coach them," Humphrey said. "I hope one day some of them will be in the same position, and maybe I'll see them at the womens' tournament."
At least one Highlander is hoping to fulfill that vision.
"My goal is to go as high as I can possibly go," sophomore Renae Gray. "I hope by the summer I'll be competing with her in the Womens' City tournament."