It’s a partnership that has driven girls golf for the last 12 years.
But for the first time in more than a decade, a new captain is at the helm after Phil Pinder stepped down before the season.
Enter Sandy Vanderbeek, who assisted Pinder during those 12 years and brings a wealth of knowledge of the game.
“Since we worked together for the last 12 years, our approaches are pretty similar,” she said. “I believe strongly in teaching the basics: getting a good swing that is consistent, a grip that is strong but relaxed, honesty in your score and as much short game practice as possible.”
The cupboard isn’t bare from last year’s team as she embarks on leading the Lady Wave for the first time.
Although Fallon lost two seniors and state qualifiers, sophomores Kim Park and Allie Lister return to help lead a young team. Sophomores Julianne Celik and Leena Tomb are new to the team as Fallon is competed with a small lineup.
“Both Allie and Kim should make a strong positive impact for our team both on the course and off the course as leaders,” Vanderbeek said.
Vanderbeek, like Pinder during his tenure, wants to see improvement every week and for her returners to keep building on last year’s success.
“To have the returners improve their scores and be more confident with the rules and their abilities,” she added. “They have already beaten their personal bests from last year at the Spring Creek tournament and I can see them both going lower during the season.”
For Celik and Tomb, though, the message is simple: comfortability with their swings and contact. But most importantly for the whole team, the goal is to also have fun.
“For all of them, I would like them to learn to enjoy the game for the rest of their lives,” Vanderbeek said “I am also hoping to get as many to state as we can.”
Through the first two tournaments of the season, Vanderbeek knows what’s ahead for her squad but said Elko, Spring Creek and Lowry will be the teams to beat. Nevertheless, Vanderbeek has been stressing fundamentals in practice and using a simplified approach.
For example, Vanderbeek wants the team to focus on accuracy over distance.
“If you have the accuracy, the distance will come with practice and strength,” she said. “Above all, a great attitude and a willingness to learn.”
Lister leads the team in the standings after improving from 131 strokes in Elko to 115 in Spring Creek. Park improved by 13 strokes as she finished at 119 in the second tournament while Celik improved by two strokes, as well. Tomb stayed even at 142 in both tournaments.
The top five golfers outside of qualifying teams will advance to state next month. Lister’s 123-stroke average puts her less than five strokes from the fifth-place golfer.
“This team works very well together and helps each other out whenever possible,” Vanderbeek said. “They listen and try their hardest to practice and improve their skills. They are eager to work on drills that we give them and try their best to gain new skills.”