HARWICH – Other teams might get the fans, but the Monomoy girls golf team got the wins this season, including an outstanding performance at the 2019 Cape Cod Girls High School Golf Championship, won by Shark eighth grader Jennie Grogan.
So what's behind the team's success? According to players the key factor is patience, with a healthy dose of sportsmanship, the latter of which earned the team well-deserved recognition.
Recently the team won the Mass Bay League Sportsmanship Award, which head coach John Anderson said was a testament to the team's welcoming attitude toward opposing teams.
“Every team is always excited to see us because they are greeted with smiles and quick laughter for the group,” Anderson said. “Jane Howard is particularly a leader in this department. The special part of it is that the sportsmanship award isn't usually won by a winning team that knows how to compete, so it was a unique experience for us to win the award.”
If it's one thing that the Sharks know how to do it's compete, as evidenced by their strong 2019 season, which included wins against Falmouth, D-Y, Nauset, Cardinal Spellman, and Sandwich with top competition from Grogan, Caroline Howard, Caitlin Daley, Jane Howard, Charlotte Blute, Lara McNeeley, Erin Starkey, and Delaney Agnes.
A high moment came in the aforementioned Cape Cod Girls championship, won by Grogan with a 7 over par 67 at Kings Way Golf Course in Yarmouth Port. Close on Grogan's heels was Caroline Howard, who finished just one stroke behind Grogan. Jane Howard and Caitlin Daley also had strong rounds for the Sharks, giving Monomoy the best overall team score, allowing them to defeat Div. 1 schools, much to Anderson's delight.
“[Our team is] a mixture of really special student athletes,” said Anderson. “We have four senior captains that have been the strongest group of captains we have ever had, and that really set the stage for our team to be special because of the leadership. They have helped guide our team, which has some really talented underclassman.”
Howard, one of the team's senior captains, said what has made her experience with the Sharks rewarding is the support from the local golf community and the closeness between teammates.
“It's incredible, it really is,” Howard said. “The support from the community, especially Cranberry Women's Golf and Jack Farrell, they all just love it so much, love to help, and love to get hands on, and that's spoken volumes with our team.”
Howard said that falling early in the season to D-Y was an important wake-up call for the team.
“The loss against D-Y put things in perspective,” she said. “I think that really motivated our team to get on our game and from there it's just great what we've done.”
But for Howard, the sport is about more than earning the W.
“It's not the winning for me,” she said. “It's the connections you make with kids from different schools, the friendships that come out of every match. You're playing nine holes with every girl you meet so naturally you're going to have things in common and form kind of a bond with each other, and I think that's really helped me with my social skills.”
But winning has been a key aspect of the team's 2019 season, culminating in Grogan's championship victory. The almost-freshman has been hitting the links since she was about 7 years old and has a deep passion for the sport, delighting in being part of the Monomoy team.
“I love the game and just getting to play,” Grogan said. “The feeling when you hit a perfect shot, and getting to play with all of your friends.”
Grogan was unaware of the scores of her fellow competitors in the CC Girls tourney, but said she had a feeling she was doing well, though she didn't know how well until her match ended.
“I knew I was playing really well and was just hoping I was in the running,” she said, adding that a memorable moment was getting to hold the championship trophy. “It was awesome getting to hold the big trophy. That's the biggest trophy I've seen.”
Anderson said he knew she was one to watch after an important match against Barnstable in which Grogan won five straight holes and shot a one over par at Eastward Ho!
“Man, Jennie has one sweet swing,” he said. “She doesn't even need to hit a ball and you can tell how grooved and fundamentally sound her swing is. She is an aggressive player and competitor, which I love, but she is incredibly humble and quiet. I just hope she continues to love golf as much as she does. I know I'm doing a good job as a coach when I see not only Jennie but all my players playing great golf, but more importantly laughing and smiling together while they are doing it.”
Both Grogan and Howard and senior Caitlin Daley each said that at the heart of the game is patience.
“It's a game that nobody has an exact science to,” said Howard. “You can have on days, and there are a lot of off days. It's going to tear you down so many times that finally when you have one day that you're totally on it's just an incredible feeling. That's what we work for.”
“You have to be patient with yourself and with the game because sometimes you can get in your head and it messes up your whole game,” said Daley.
“You definitely have to be patient,” Grogan added. “When you hit a bad shot you have to get over it and focus on the next one.”
Daley also appreciated the unity between teammates, an important piece of her success through the years.
“The chemistry we have with each other,” she said, “even though it's not a team sport we all connect well and hype each other up when we're playing together.”
Howard also gave kudos to the team's coaches.
“The support they have for us,” she said. “John Farrell has done so much for this team. I wouldn't be here today without him. Mr. Smeltzer. Mr. Anderson for being a person to look up to on the team, and Mr. Burke who just came on this year. Our coaches are just so amazing and we're lucky to have them.”
With the season nearing its end, save for competing in the South Sectionals on May 29, the players are happily reflecting on their successes, with seniors making plans to continue playing when opportunities arise, while the underclassmen will keep striving for more championship victories.
“The game of golf is kind of under recognized at times,” said Howard. “It's a sport where there's not a lot of fans or a lot of cheering, but it's a sport that every single player works more than I think anyone just to keep going, keep coming back every day. Everyone that sticks with it loves it and it's a game that you can keep doing for the rest of your life if you want to.”