Midway through the first week of practice, Coach David Hancock is impressed with what he’s seen so far from the seven men and seven women on the teams.
“They all have a passion for golf, and they work hard,” he said. “They would be out here playing even if there wasn’t a practice. Their work ethic and passion will be a strong starting point.”
Coach Hancock’s goal for the five-tournament fall season is “to put together a team that is competitive,” and to build a cohesive unit. At each competition, five golfers play, with the top four scores counted. Practicing as a team motivates the athletes to do their best for the team’s success, as well as their individual achievement.
“Golf is based more on teamwork than people realize,” he said. “Better teamwork results in better scores, which helps us compete as a team.”
The first-year team includes seven freshmen, but also has veteran leadership from transfer students AnneMarie Balsbaugh (Kokomo/Kokomo HS) and Kait Wickersham (Logansport/Logansport HS), who previously played at IUPUI, and Bailey Troutman (Anderson/homeschool), who competed at IU East.
Troutman, a communication arts major, is excited to be part of a first-year program.
“I am glad to have the chance to continue playing golf at the college level,” she said. “I want to do the best I can, and be competitive as a first-year team.”
She said golf helps her stay dedicated to her studies, and motivates her to balance her time. In addition, it’s a skill that will help her in her career after college, because many professionals build business relationships on the course.
“It’s an investment in myself now, and in the future,” she said.
Ben Constable (Kokomo/Western HS) and Lela Crawford (Tipton/Tipton HS) both contribute college athletic experience from IU Kokomo’s basketball teams. Constable played one season for the men’s team, and Crawford will continue to play on the women’s team.
Constable works at Wildcat Creek Golf Course, the team’s home course. He continued honing his skills, in hopes of the campus adding a golf program.
“As a senior, I bring experience to the team,” he said. “It’s always special starting a new program.”
Freshman Ryan Balog (Kokomo/Kokomo HS) chose to participate to make history, because of it being a first-year team, and also to be part of a smaller campus community.
“It gives me more experience as a golfer, and I’m meeting people who aren’t in the same major,” he said. “It’s adding to my college experience outside the classroom.”
For freshman Abby Houlihan (Wabash/Southwood HS), the campus’ radiography program attracted her to campus, and playing golf is a bonus.
“IU Kokomo had the program I wanted,” Houlihan said. “It just felt like home when I came to visit campus.”
Hancock appreciates having Wildcat Creek Golf Course as the home course. Owner Art Stonebraker donated use of the course for practices, with unlimited access for the student athletes. He also is providing assistance from a swing coach.
“That partnership allows us to begin our program without the expense of greens fees and other costs,” he said. “That is a great benefit for our campus and student athletes.”
The men’s team includes senior Derek Glass (Alexandria/Alexandria HS), and freshmen Alex Beale (Cicero/Hamilton Heights HS), Seth Grimme (Tipton/Tipton HS), Austin Welch (Westfield/Westfield HS), and Baylor Woolley (Kokomo/Western HS).
Senior Kelsey Crabtree (Elwood/Elwood HS), and freshman Austina Cansler (Fairmount/Eastbrook HS) round out the women’s team.
The fall schedule begins with a tournament Sunday, August 30, at IU East. Additional matches are the Bethel Tournament, September 11-12 in Mishawaka;
the OCU Country Oaks Invitational, September 29 in Montgomery, Indiana;
the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference preview October 2-3 in Georgetown, Kentucky; and the RedHawk Fall Classic October 26-27 in Athens, Alabama.
For more information about IU Kokomo athletics, go to iukcougars.com
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.