With an inexperienced group of golfers, the Lake Washington girls golf team could use a seasoned coach to lead it to success.
Thankfully, it has Fred Mabbott, who is entering his 16th season with the Kangs. With so much time in the program, Mabbott’s familiar with the ups and downs of coaching golf in Kirkland. Lake Washington finished 4-5 last season and sixth in KingCo 4A.
One of the biggest challenges for Lake Washington (and for city rivals Juanita) is overcoming the local dearth of golf course and country clubs. In other areas, golfers grow up playing at country clubs and other courses through their lives. Mabbott said many of the golfers who try out at Lake
Washington don’t have any experience, so he starts from the basics and works them up to a competitive level.
“Some of them we’ve had to take them and show them which end of the club to hold,” Mabbott said.
Because they didn’t grow up with the game, many of his golfers also don’t get to practice as much as Mabbott would like.
“For some of these girls the clubs are in garage and they just step over them, instead of picking them up and going out to play,” he said.
Of the five golfers who will likely count for the varsity score each week (10 golfers play, the top five scores count for varsity), three return from last season for Lake Washington, and all three are juniors.
Sammie Marshall, who Mabbott said is still inexperienced, leads the trio.
Marshall shot under 60 in her final match last year and has already broken the barrier twice this season, including a 57 against Bothell in Lake Washington’s first KingCo match this season.
Another returner, Kellan Jones, also picked up the sport later in life, but is making steady progress. Rounding out the group is Kelly McGivern, who Mabbott said played frequently growing up and has made great strides since joining the team.
The Kangs’ brightest hope for the future likely shines from freshman Stephanie Schoeppel. Schoeppel shot a 55, just one stroke out of second place, against Bothell.
Senior Katie Parsons is the other newcomer among the five.
Despite the slight difficulties, Mabbott said he’s pleased with the team’s progress so far.
“They all have some athletic ability, and they’re all going to continue improving,” he said.
Mabbott said his biggest goal with the team is make the golfers better.
“Winning and losing takes care of itself,” Mabbott said. “I take more pride in individual improvement.”
His team can go to a match and get beat by 30 strokes, but if they each got better, then the match wasn’t really a loss, he said.