The Juanita girls golf team turnaround finally seems to have hit full swing.
Now in their third year, head coach Paul Miller and assistant Steve Yuzeler believe their “new regime” is finally starting to have an affect on the team’s performance and attitude. After a 3-7 season last year, Juanita is off to a 2-1 (at press time) start in 2008.
Miller and Yuzeler’s strategy involves building awareness of the golf team around the school, creating an atmosphere the golfers are proud to be a part of, and developing a program that continues to grow. The key, Miller and Yuzeler say, is to accomplish those goals while playing with integrity and having fun.
Miller said playing with integrity is one of the most important aspects of Juanita’s gameplan. He said cheating is a problem in high school golf because there aren’t any referees on the golf course.
“A lot of golfers will be down by a lot and they’ll just lie to try and make up that difference,” Miller said. “We want to make sure to always play with integrity.”
Miller said other important areas of focus are individual growth and teaching a sport the girls can play forever.
Now in his third season as head coach, Miller has worked to increase student interest in the team.
“Last year we had three girls turnout at first,” Miller said. “The girls went out and found more girls to turn out and we ended up with eight. This season, we started with 11 and are up to 14 now.”
Along with the obvious positives of increased numbers, Miller will inherit a few new problems as well.
“We’ve always told everyone to ‘come on out and we’ll teach you how to golf,’” he said. “Now we might have to be making cuts in the future.”
This season, junior Beka Chaney is expected to be the team’s best player. Miller said the captain had never picked up a golf club before last year and called her a “natural to the game.” He said she isn’t a big hitter, but she draws strength
“Nothing throws her off her game,” Miller said. “She’s a good model for the rest of the team. Newbies assume she’s been around for a while and she just started last year.”
Chaney rose quickly last year in her first season of golf. After just three matches she had already solidified herself as Juanita’s top player. Chaney has already qualified for the KingCo districts this season by shooting a round under 60.
Jessica Lee will also be a big factor for the Rebels. The senior was new to the team last year, but her family has played throughout her life. Miller said her sense of humor and attitude are vital to team chemistry.
“She’s our resident funny girl,” Miller said. “She refuses to not have fun at any time.”
Miller said Lee will usually make friends with whoever she’s playing with by the end of the round, and she helps by acting as another coach.
“We can’t be everywhere,” Miller said. “There’s only two coaches and 14 golfers.”
Caitlin Terashima will often be the second best scorer behind Chaney. The junior is a captain of the team and is the other Rebel to already have qualified for districts.
Senior Chelsea Stevenson is in her third year and is a former captain. Senior Stacey Sears was a captain last year and an important part of the team this year.
“We want to focus on being the girls that are the most fun to play against, and the girls that have the most fun playing,” Miller said.
Juanita’s next match is tomorrow against Ballard at Wellington Hills Golf Course in Woodinville.