Spirits were high as the Bengals’ golf team prepared for its trip to to compete in the Big Sky Championship and reflected on the past season.
“I feel really good. I feel we are prepared and we all want to do well. Our coaches have pumped us up and I think we are all really excited,” said Courtney Smith, captain of the golf team.
“I think all of us have practiced on our own a lot more and we are all more focused and dedicated than before. We don’t have to qualify, which is nice. We are mostly all returners, so we have been able to bond,” said Kristen Phillips, a senior.
Head Coach Kellie Hooper was excited for the Big Sky Championship for more than just competition.
She got to see the work her team put in through the fall and spring semesters come together, celebrating all of the team’s handwork. She also said she enjoys the environment.
“The course is amazing, the atmosphere is great, the weather is fantastic and everything is at its peak. It’s really fun for me as the coach to watch all of their efforts be put to the final test,” said Hooper.
Their team of five bonded throughout the past year. The players did not have to compete against each other this year. The team had a strong cohesiveness because of it.
Next year, the golf team will be moving to 11 women, which may change the dynamics.
“I think one of my favorite things is the car rides. A lot of teams can’t do that, but with us we have made friendships that will last,” said Phillips.
“We have also been very fortunate to have coaches that support us in anything we do. We can talk to them about anything with school or life,” she continued.
As captain this year, Smith had the chance to become more involved with the team and to help the coaches.
She enjoyed having the chance to learn from it and to develop into being more responsible, she said.
Hooper said she often gets asked why her girls workout so much. She stressed that golf is a sport that requires mental work as well as physical.
“It requires an extreme amount of focus, because you are out on a golf course, carrying your golf bag, walking in the heat for nearly five hours. The way we prepare for that is we workout. Mentally they need strong focus and physically they need endurance. We are in the weight four to five days a week and we are on the course four to five days a week as well,” explained Hooper.
Smith and Phillips leaving the golf team was bittersweet to Hooper.
She said Smith helped run the team. Hooper described her as a good coordinator and a good leader.
Hooper said Phillips brought a spirit to the team that no other player has.
“She is soft and sweet but is a tiger, true Bengal on the inside. There is a definite fire about her,” said Hooper.
“I have two [seniors] walking away with degrees though, and that makes me happy,” she continued.
A highlight for Hooper this year was Sydney Smith, Courtney Smith’s sister.
The team was at a limited number, and needed Sydney Smith to step up to the team ready to perform.
She did just that.
“Overall, our team in general is a highlight because of the bond they created. It is something myself and Coach Michael Erickson have worked really hard to achieve that and they did that this year,” said Hooper.
With high goals, Hooper wanted to have the team’s seniors walk away with accomplishment this tournament.