Golf is back in full swing for the student golfers at Morton High School, in a different way. With many other falls sports being pushed back to the spring, the golf team was lucky that the season still happened due to this pandemic. Along with the Illinois High School Association’s new regulations and guidelines, the team looked to overcome the setbacks to pursue a safe and successful season.
As many other fall sports, the golf team was hit with harsh and strict guidelines that set them back. The team was set to have a tough time getting back to any source of “normalcy” on the golf course. Assistant Coach and Sophomore Math Teacher Raymond Lunz spoke on some of the new guidelines put in place this year by the IHSA. “We cannot play anyone who is outside our ‘COVID’ region, due to certain outbreaks within teams in our area. We have to wear masks the entire practice and before we tee off for a match. Another guideline is that there is no sharing of equipment at all. When out on the course players need to keep their distance at all times and during practice as well.” To the public eye these restrictions may seem very trivial, however, Head Varsity Coach and Senior Civics Teacher Christopher Blomquist explains why this is not true. “This year has been one of the harder years that I have had as a coach. Golf is a very hands-on sport, kids cannot be taught by verbal instructions easily. So the idea that the coaching process is slowed down this year is a very hard challenge.” With golfers being stuck at home with little to no practice for the last couple of months, coaches had an extremely hard job coming into this season. As Blomquist described, golf is a very technical sport that requires immense amounts of training, and with COVID-19 still prevalent, hands-on coaching does not seem to be a viable option for this year.
With all the pressure put on coaching this year, many people in the district wondered how the athletes progressed under this amount of setbacks and new guidelines placed upon them. Lunz gives a coach’s perspective on the team’s progression over this period. “Everyone has improved dramatically from day one. Like I said before our players and coaches did not let our circumstances define what our season was going to be like. They went above and beyond to make sure they were meeting their goals and keeping the task at hand at all times.” Although the athletes were faced with hardship and setbacks, Lunz stated how the golfers have not given up no matter what the challenge was.
With the coaches explaining how students have persevered through this period, the golfers during this time of COVID have been through more struggle this year than they have in their high school career. Junior Golfer Naim Cobena commented on the struggles he has seen on the course as a result of the coronavirus. “It’s hard being out there knowing that there is a chance of getting sick. We are safe as a team and we make sure that we are healthy before every practice and match. It truly is a struggle when you learn to play the game one way, then having to adjust at the snap of a finger.” Cobena, a three-year golfer, has been apart of the program since he was a freshman. By keeping safety in the back of his mind at all times, Cobena has overcome the hardship, even though there is an immense struggle. Many new golfers did not see there being a good outcome to this season, however, there has been some light shed during the season. “Something good that has come out of me as an athlete was some leadership skills with the newer players on the team. I’ve been helping the newer players find their own talents and are sure they can use that on the course.” Senior Giovanni Escudero commented on how he immerged as a leader to guide new golfers in their high school careers. This is very important to know as many players like Escudero are leading golfers to have hope and perseverance during this hard time.
With many struggles and setbacks coming throughout the season, the golf team has shown how to persevere through a time of hardship; whether it is the coaches keeping the kids safe while competing, or the student-athletes leading as role models on and off the course. With attitudes like those of the golf team, sports will be back to normal in no time at Morton West.