By Tony Hooker
As coach of the Villa Grove Heritage boys and girls golf teams for the past several years, Scott Gerard thought he had seen it all.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and with it the cancellation of many fall sports and activities ensued.
Golf wasn’t one of them, which has resulted in a problem he never thought he would face. An overflowing team Roster.
With 7 girls and 20 boys on the squad, plus social distancing requirements in place, one on one instruction will be complicated as the squad prepares for its first match.
The numbers, plus the fact that many of the new squad members are playing for the first time, has made things “more interesting”, as Coach Gerard stated after his first practice.
Gerard knows that many of the members of the team wouldn’t be on the course at all if they’re primary sports hadn’t been postponed, and he’s ok with that. “At our first team meeting, I asked if anyone was there because their sport had been cancelled,” Gerard said, “and a lot of hands went up.
Gerard does welcome three athletes, Zach Buesing, Jesse Bessent and Jake Gilles, back from his 2019 squad, and he’s expecting great things from all of them. “Those three will be the backbone of this year’s team.,” Gerard noted. Because of the number of participants, Gerard is going to look for them to provide leadership at practice as well as during matches. “They’ve been here and know what we expect,” he added.
Buesing, a rising senior, is expected to be the bell cow of the squad after gaining valuable experience during last year’s state series. “Zach qualified for sectionals last year,” Gerard said, “and he hadn’t competed at that level and I think he was out of his comfort zone. This year, he’s got that experience, and he’s gotten wiser, and we’re expecting big things out of him.”
As for the new additions to the team, Gerard remains cautiously optimistic. “We know that they’ve played other sports and that there are some good athletes there,” he stated. “It’s how quickly we can get that athleticism to translate to the course that will be interesting to watch.”
The Blue Devils are set to tee off the 2020 season on August 20 in a duel meet versus Okaw Valley at Eagle Creek Golf Course in Findlay.