April 17, 2014 7:27:23 PM
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Laura Trenor is all about fun.
As a physical education teacher at New Hope Elementary School, Trenor knows how to make enjoyable lessons for her kids.
Trenor's ability to make learning fun isn't reserved for the classroom. In her first season as head coach of the New Hope High School girls golf team, Trenor wanted to find a way to help her players build on a fourth-place finish at the Class II State Championship, so she talked to the Lady Trojans about having the right mind-set.
"One thing I have seen them change this year is their attitude," Trenor said. "They never had a bad attitude, but as far as hitting bad shots, they would get down really easily. One of the main things I have been able to accomplish with them is getting them to know they are going to hit bad shots. Once they hit one, now they know, OK, I hit a bad shot and I can focus on what I am going to do instead of what they have done. I have had very little problem with them getting down."
New Hope took the first step toward improving on its 2013 finish on Tuesday, winning the Class 5A, Region 2, District 4 title at Kirkwood National Golf Club in Holly Springs.
Mary Grace Caldwell led New Hope and earned medalist honors with a 91, while Belle Keopraseut shot a 97 and Taylor White shot a 114.
New Hope's team score of 188 outdistanced West Point (216) and Oxford (235). Ashley Johnson shot a 101 and Angelica Colbert shot a 115 for West Point.
The victory enabled New Hope to qualify for its third state tournament in as many years. The program, which started in 2012 with Laura Lee Holman as coach, finished as district runner-up to Tupelo in 2012 and went on to place fourth in the Class III tournament at Canton Country Club.
Last year, Caldwell earned medalist honors with an 87 to pace the Lady Trojans' march to the district title in Biloxi. Caldwell shot a 182, Keopraseut shot a 225 and White shot a 232 for New Hope's fourth-place finish (407) at the state tournament at Sunkist C.C.
This year, Trenor feels New Hope has a chance to win a state title.
She feels the players' ability to move on after they hit bad shots has helped them win four matches and three tournaments. The team finished second in its other tournament.
"I am excited for them because they have put in all of the work, and I think they deserve it," Trenor said. "I think they are capable. I would be so excited to win a state championship. Even if they finished second or third, I would so proud of them. As far as the maturity and the scores are a lot better, so you can tell they are continuing to get better. Hopefully, that will pay off at state."
Trenor remembers last season at the state tournament, when Keopraseut got down on the second day because she felt she couldn't hit a good shot. Trenor said Keopraseut continued to hit bad shots that day, so this year Trenor reminds her about the round by asking her, 'What happened at state?' She said Keopraseut has responded and re-focused on what she has to do instead of thinking about what she just did.
Trenor also said Caldwell, a junior, has improved, matured, and learned how to put bad shots behind her. That combination has fueled New Hope's success.
For Trenor, who helped with the girls basketball and girls golf teams last year, the development has been fun to watch. The chance to coach the team enabled her to get back to a game she first played with her twin sister, Lindsey Henderson, when she was younger. Trenor said she and Lindsey played in tournaments at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point before she stopped playing for a number of years.
She said she started playing again about four years ago when her father, Jim, bought a set of golf clubs for everyone in the family and they started to play in golf scrambles at West Point Country Club. Next week, she hopes to put her game to the test against her players in practice rounds to help them prepare for the state tournament, which will be April 27-29 at Kirkwood National Golf Club. She feels playing at the same course again will help her players, especially if the conditions are different from the cold, wet, and rainy weather the teams faced at the district tournament.
"I told them (at the district tournament), 'I know the conditions are going to be bad, but you can't expect you're going to play bad. You have to go into it thinking you're going to do good. If not, you're already on the wrong track if you think you're going to do bad,' " Trenor said. "If we were going to win district and go to state, they were going to have to do it on the same course, and they took advantage of it. They took mental notes so they could know what not to do on certain holes, so that is a good advantage for us that we got to play (the course) before the state championship."
Trenor said the team will play plenty of 18-hole rounds leading up to the state tournament to make sure the players know what to expect in back-to-back rounds. As much as Trenor will try to make that time fun, she feels her players will be ready once it is time to take the course.
"They are a lot more focused compared to the beginning of the season," Trenor said. "They know they can win state and they only have a little more than a week to prepare for it. They are taking advantage of every moment they have. Even on the weekend, all three of them will go play Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It is good I have girls who really want to work at it and want to do good. They are motivated and they come ready to play."
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Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.