Linda Gilley has been coaching golf for a dozen years, and she’s never seen anything like this.
Four of her Marian Catholic golfers graduated in June. No freshman have come out to replace them. She has only four players on her squad, the bare minimum for a team score.
“I don’t know what it is,” Gilley said. “Is it the economy? I don’t know. I’ve had years where we haven’t had any freshmen come out, but I haven’t had it the year after we’ve graduated everybody.”
She has it now. Sylvie Brick, Samantha Barlage, Alexandra Palmer and Abby Brunner graduated, with Brick off to a Division I spot at Georgia.
That leaves two veterans: senior Bree Veazey and junior Nina Nicpon, who came on last year strongly enough to climb into the Spartans’ top four.
This year, Nicpon will begin as one of the top two. Gilley also has two sophomores on the team. One of them, Jacqueline Poe, is in the band but will make golf her first priority in the fall, joining Emily Schenck as newcomers. A potential fifth player, Serina Mancha, never showed up to try out.
All of which means Gilley has her work cut out.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Gilley said. “It’s my smallest team in numbers. I have to keep the level of competition up, but also bring the younger players along.”
The lack of newcomers is the most unusual circumstance for Gilley.
“When Meg (Gilley) and Sammi (Sloan) graduated, we were decimated in talent and bodies, but we had five freshmen coming in. And then Sylvie transferred in,” Gilley said, recalling the fall of 2009.
So a repeat of last year’s sixth place finish in Class AA – the second in a row for the Spartans – is the last thing from Gilley’s mind. She called Monday’s season-opening invitational at Coyote Run in Flossmoor “very interesting. I don’t know how everybody else is, but we’re thin.”
The results Monday were mixed, with Veazey tying for fourth with a 5- over-par 76, Nicpon posting an 86, and Poe and Schenck over 100. For the latter duo, it was a start.