The 2010-11 Spring Hill College men's and women's golf teams feature one of the most experienced line-ups of players in the history of the programs. Last season, both programs reemerged on the national level as the men advanced to NAIA National Championships and the women came within a matter of strokes of advancing to the National Tournament as well.
For the six seniors on the men's squad, this year promises to be one to remember. Chuck Balsamico of Covington, La., Eddie Smith of Houston, Texas, and Ricky Escobar of Miami, Fla. each look forward to a return trip to TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., for another shot at the NAIA title while Chris Coleman from McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, Javier Portal of Miami and Pat Whalen of Rockville, Md., each want to experience the thrills of their teammates' challenge of last year.
Two sophomores, Nathan Ceille and of Hales Corners, Wis., and Joseph Webster of Trussville, Ala., appear ready to break into the starting five for Head Coach Steve Hodges and fellow sophomores Chris Cartmill of Chesterfield, Mo., Alan Flood of Fort Wright, Ky., and Scott Shields of Alpharetta, Ga., will see valuable time in competition as the year progresses.
With the Badgers move to the newly expanded Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) this year, the junior class John Sabio of St. Louis, Mo., and Wyatt Esteves of New Orleans, La., will be asked to play a leadership role in preparing the freshmen for a tougher and deeper level of competition than faced in the past. For the freshman class this season the experience of the SHC upperclassmen will mean that seeing time in varsity play will be a struggle, but Phillip Dugan of Lake Forest, Ill., Spencer Lane of St. Louis, Rickie Lee of Bayou LaBatre, Ala., Stefan Rel of Theodore, Ala., and Danny Wagner of St. Louis are a solid foundation for the future.
Like the men's team, the women's squad is one of the most experienced and talented group of players Spring Hill has had in many years. Seniors Anna Beykirch of Sedalia, Mo., Vickie Gonzalez of Miami and Jasmine Bowers from Murphy High School each spent time in the starting five during the 2010-11 season and came within five strokes of an appearance in the NAIA Championships.
Junior Annmarie Coan of St. Louis will also step into the starting five for the Badgers, but, more importantly, she will need to mentor a freshman class of Katie Callahan from Prairie Village, Kan., Audrey Dombrowski of St. Louis, Elena Hall from Faith Academy, Shelley Husband of Pass Christian, Miss., and Avery Kyle of Frisco, Texas, who form a core of new players facing a bright Badger future.
"This group of players has really taken it upon themselves to work hard and improve their games," says Hodges. "They have impressed me not only with their desire to return to the top of the national scene, but with their sense of team pride. I think that should ultimately help push us back to where Badger golf belongs."
The Spring Hill College men's and women's golf teams will host the annual Badger Collegiate Invitational at the SHC Golf Course on Monday and Tuesday.