In the fall of 2008, Fred Wadsworth became the coach of the reinstated Hammond girls golf team. The year before, the team didn't exist. Two years later, Wadsworth and the Skyhawks are SCISA state champions. At Hidden Valley Golf Club on Oct. 19, the Skyhawks shot a 221 to win the title, beating out rival Heathwood Hall's 224 in the nine-hole championship match.
After building a championship program, Wadsworth talked to The State about how it happended and what's next for his team.
What were your expectations and plans at the start of this season?
At the beginning of the season, this being my second year, I was just looking to be improved. You know we were starting from scratch with this team; Hammond had girls golf in the past off and on, but we really started out just looking to get some participation and build the numbers. This season, we had good numbers and the girls were very excited to practice and learn. I saw them improving and I knew we could be a strong team but I didn't know if we could win our state tournament.
What was your team's mantra through the season?
Probably our theme for our team was 'save every shot you can.' Every shot is important. It's so easy to get down if you had a bad hole, but we just wanted to save every shot we could and not give up on any hole. A six is better than a seven, and when we've played Heathwood, it always comes down to just a few strokes so we wanted to make sure we saved every one we could.
How did it become clear to you that the Skyhawks could be the state's best team?
We had great participation this year, a big roster and by having that you can push each other for playing time. We had 15 girls on our team and so we had competition within the team to go to the matches and it pushes people to practice. Our girls had a good attitude, all of them are kind of eager to learn and to play. It was late in the season that I realized that we had a bonafide chance.
Heathwood has been to the mountaintop a few times. How did you feel going up against them in the final?
We know them and they know us, so there were no secrets. It's always a great match between us. We're so familiar with them, we knew it was going to be close. We're just fortunate that it came out our way that last time.
At the championship, how did the day go for your team?
We got off to a very poor start as a team. The thing I was most proud of was that they all began to kind of settle down.
We got off to shaky start. It didn't look like it was going to be our day, but we just went back to our motto, 'save every shot you can,' and it ended up working out for us.
Who have been your team's leaders through this season?
Emily Davis is a junior and she's kind of the anchor of our team. She's very consistent and our most polished player.
We've had different players step up through the year at different times when we needed them. Allison Tadlock was one of my seniors and she played really solid at the state tournament early and gave us a good score to post early when we were in need of a low score. She shot her best score at the state finals so she, we, were all really proud of her and grateful for that.
So do you still feel like a new coach trying to build a program?
No. You know, these girls broke me in early. They've been a great group. I thoroughly enjoyed them. We started off from scratch. The immediate goal was just to provide some direction and get some participation. The biggest thing is our girls were eager to learn.
What does this state championship mean for such a young program?
I think it was a great encouragement to the girls. It was very gratifying for us and we felt fortunate, and of course we were thrilled. For the girls, it just solidified in their minds that, if we come out at practice and keep at it and stick with it, we can win. So I'm hoping that they will do more of that in the offseason and come back out next year.