Looking back over the last two years, the Denton girls golf team knows it should have done better than second place.
Denton advanced to the Class 4A regional tournament; yet, the Lady Broncos couldn’t find a way to earn a spot in the state tournament by finishing in the top two places.
The obstacles had nothing to do with bad grips, slices, hooks or major swing errors. Mental issues kept Denton from advancing out of the regional tournament.
This year with the same five girls from last year’s team, the Lady Broncos aim to reach the state tournament at the 4A Region I tournament Wednesday and Thursday at the Diamondback Golf Club in Abilene.
“We’ve really just haven’t had the drive to win,” Denton’s Payton Andress said of the team’s last two regional appearances. “We’ve always gone just for pleasure.
“Now, we actually know that there’s a chance we can get out and go to state, and we want to go to state. That’s our goal. That’s what always should have been our goal.”
Andress, Jill Jordan, Stephanie Swenson, Stephanie Mobley and Lindsey Heal comprise Denton’s five varsity spots which carried the Lady Broncos to a District 4-4A championship. Andress, Swenson and Jordan are the three senior leaders on the team.
The three girls have been best friends since first grade. Jordan knows the mental aspect has been what’s been holding the team back in the last two years.
“Because, as of right now, it’s not our game,” Jordan said. “It’s all in our head. We all know how to hit a golf ball. We all know how to shoot low scores. But it’s, ‘can we do it?’”
According to head coach Mick Maxey, the team is right where it needs to be. The team’s scores were dropping toward the end of the regular season, and he feels his team is playing its best golf of the season right now, playing with confidence and belief.
But unlike most coaches, Maxey doesn’t have the luxury of playing with kids who play golf year-round.
“These kids we literally pull out of the hallway and [they] said, ‘I want to learn how to try and play golf,’ so it takes two or three years to develop those kids,” Maxey said
Many of his players are also cheerleaders at DHS or involved in other activities. If any of the girls or boys on the golf team want to play other sports, Maxey said he’s more than willing to accommodate around the students’ schedules, even though it may be frustrating at times.
“I’m not going to tell you that you have to be a straight golfer,” Maxey said. “If that was the case, this golf team would have about four kids on it. It’s not fair to them, but on the flipside, we have to be patient with their schedules.”
Whatever process Maxey and assistant coach Lisa Asplund has crafted over the years has paid off. Stepping into Denton’s golf practice facility on the side of Fulton Street, Maxey, Asplund and the players all joked around before practice Thursday.
It’s the same jovial relationship he carries with Ryan head coach Trey Peden. With Peden’s boys team in the regional tournament as well, Maxey said both coaches are rooting for the other team to advance to state.
The two coaches have a friendly competition called the RACO Cup, a similar competition to the Ryder Cup where the two schools play each other in a stroke-play tournament. When asked who’s won the last couple of times, Maxey sheepishly smiled before saying, “Ryan.”
The coach’s gleeful attitude has rubbed off on his kids, who plan on going ghost hunting while they are in West Texas.
But when it comes down to being the first team since anybody can remember to make it to state, the Lady Broncos are determined to set a trend the school had decades ago, a trend of earning trophies on a regular basis.
About a month ago, Maxey gave the kids bracelets saying, “Attitude, Belief and Confidence.”
So far, the team’s bought in. Asplund, whose brother, Chris McQuatters, helped design Diamondback in 1999, said the Lady Broncos have the physical ability to excel in Abilene. It just comes down to the mental aspect of the game.
“They’re swings are pretty natural for them, these five girls,” Asplund said. “But in order to be able to go out and score, you have to have not only that swing, you have to able to think your way through the golf course, and I think that’s what they do now.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .