By AMBLE SMOKER
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Coach Sharon Bradley isn’t shy about setting lofty goals for her team at the beginning of the season. After reaching the NCHSAA 1A West Regionals Golf Tournament five times of the Lady Braves’ Golf six year existence, Coach Bradley is confident a Lady Brave will be teeing up in the final tournament at Pinehurst in late October.
“We are expecting to send someone to State,” said Coach Bradley. “We have girls this year who are determined they are going to make it to State. We’ve made it to regionals five of the six years we’ve been playing. Last year was the first year we didn’t have anybody at Regionals because they changed the scoring, the way the qualifying is but we’ve fixed that (with the NCHSAA).”
The Cherokee Braves typically compete in the Smoky Mountain Conference, but the lack of teams from the SMC regulars has forced the Lady Braves to look elsewhere for competition. The team will travel east and compete against bigger schools in the 2A and 3A conferences. In other sports, such feats may be intimidating for smaller schools, but the Lady Braves will be fielding an 11-person team; many with prior experience in competitive match play.
“We’ve got three players who have been playing three years, Peri Wildcatt, Tysha Sampson, and Kendra. We also have several 9th graders who have really come along this year. This is the most girls we’ve ever had, 11, when most teams only have three or four girls. We’re excited to have this many girls this year.”
“We’re trying to get more equipment and that’s the growth part,” explained assistant coach Yona Wade. “We had five or six last year, and now we have 11. Right now, we are sending out girls two to a cart with one bag. We are working on getting equipment so that we can take everybody. We have enough (players) for two teams. That’s really exciting for us.
Coach Wade went on to explain the life skills taught by the game of golf. “Golf is almost a business essential. This is part of a working life skill for our students in playing golf. A lot of business is taking place on the golf course. Golf is going to be valuable for them and it is a lifetime sport.”
While the Lady Braves will travel east for most of their matches this season, they will also host four home matches at the Sequoyah National Golf Club in Whittier.
“Our home course is Sequoyah, a fantastic course with a fantastic team,” said Wade. “Ryan (Ott) has been good to us, working with us, allowing us to utilize additional equipment when we need. We appreciate everything Sequoyah and Ryan has done for the ladies golf team.”
Coach Bradley elaborated, “We don’t have to do a lot of coaching. Carr Crowe is probably one of the best golf teachers in western North Carolina of anybody. He is a really great fixer. When something is wrong with the girl’s swing, he knows how to fix it. They spend a lot of time with a lot of time with him, and they enjoy spending time out here because they learn a lot from him.”