BLANCHARD — The Montabella Mustangs golf team will begin the year with a new coach, but a team with five returning golfers and depth.
Nicole Howe is the new head coach, while Tom Ewell will be the Mustangs assistant coach. Howe sees a team with potential.
“As a first year varsity coach, I think I tend to be more optimistic than seasoned coaches,” she said. “But I see a lot of potential in such a young team to accomplish some major goals this year. I’m constantly pushing the team to challenge themselves and set goals that they have to work for.”
Returning for the Mustangs are Parker Eldred (Sr.), Austin Garner (Sr.), Michael Hyde (Jr.), Dakoda Lobert (Jr.) and Trenton Sabin (Jr.)
“As a team, consistent ball striking is a huge strength. There is a lot of depth on this year’s team,” Howe said. “I feel like I can expect four solid scores from any of my seven players on a given day. We shouldn’t have a problem putting together four scores together when we need to.”
While ball striking is a strength, confidence is not.
“Our team’s mental game needs some improvement. We have a lot of talented and athleticism, but I think a lack of confidence among the players will them from realizing the goals they have set for themselves,” Howe said. “We’ve had many conversations about how we can be more confident in our game.
“Having a coach that provides them with positive reinforcement and encouragement is key,” she added.
Howe said Eldred and Garner will be the team leaders.
“My two seniors, Parker and Austin, have gone above and beyond in fulfilling the leadership role that I established for them when we first met,” she said. “I am so pleased with the enthusiasm they demonstrate for the game of golf and the positive attitude they bring to each practice.”
Montabella does not compete in a conference, as the MSAC does not have enough schools that fill golf programs. But they feel a tough schedule will prepare them for the postseason.
“We are going to play schools who typically have strong golf programs,” Howe said. “I’m a firm believer that putting our players into a higher caliber field will challenge them to become better golfers.”
Among the Mustangs’ opponents are Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, Greenville, Alma and Farwell.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect to be a competitive team at the regional level,” Howe said. “There are a couple individual players that are capable of individually qualifying for the regional or state competitions.”
The Mustangs will play a Breckenridge on Wednesday.