Mingus Union’s sports family has grown.
Ladies golf became the Marauders’ 19th sport over the summer when the board approved its addition and it’s historic.
“To me it’s so cool that we’re going to be able to add a girls program here at Mingus,” said Mingus head golf coach Craig Mai. “As far as I know there’s never been one and I know there hasn’t been on in the last 20 some years.”
Mai lead both the ladies’ and gentlemen’s’ teams. The ladies began official practices on Monday.
“I’m really excited about that opportunity for the girls,” said Mingus athletic director Yancey DeVore. “That’s really exciting, I think it’s progress moving in the right direction and there’s a lot of interest in it.”
Right now there is eight or nine players on the ladies team, all freshmen.
Mai said there was a lot of people who helped build up the middle school program and now it has grown to the point where Mingus Union added a girls team.
Although girls could have played on the boys team, Mai said they hadn’t had any in a couple years.
“Hopefully we’ll get some interest from upper classmen once they find out that ‘yes this is really happening,’” Mai said.
Even if they don’t add any sophomore, juniors or seniors, DeVore said he impressed with the numbers.
“That’s really good for a program coming in for the first time,” DeVore said. “So that’s a step in the right direction for sure.”
The ladies team will play a slightly shorter schedule and are not in a section, they are independent.
The girls practiced over the summer and Mai said they have impressed him.
“The girls that have shown interest are committed, they’re excited, they’re very proud of the concept that they’re going to be the founding members,” Mai said. “They’re the ones that are building the foundation.”
During the summer, they worked on their short game, chipping and putting.
“I was definitely impressed with the skills that they’re coming in with but it’s very clear that they see the things we need to improve upon as well,” Mai said.
Longtime volunteer assistant coach Dennis Kitchen has been promoted to paid assistant and Mingus golf will also have some volunteer coaches.
Kitchen is a math teacher at Mingus Union, like Mai.
“He’s taught and coached here multiple sports for 20 years here at Mingus so he’s going to be able to provide a lot of value to us,” Mai said.
The ladies and gentlemen will practice at the same time and Mai said that the girls team will add value to the boys program as well.
“Sometimes we’ll be working on the same thing, sometimes we will kinda have it flipped, the boys are on the range and the girls are out on the putting green or out playing and we’ll flip the next day or sometimes we’ll intermix,” Mai said. “There’s opportunities there for growth for both the boys and the girls, so to me that’s exciting.”
Mai will lead the ladies program for at least the first season. His plan is to guide them through their abbreviated schedule before handing the reigns to another head coach.
“So really it didn’t make sense to me to have a full blown separate program with their own head coach but I think what would be best is hopefully in the future, next year or definitely in the year after that they have their own separate head coach that can really focus specifically on making sure that we’re doing everything that we can for them to be successful,” Mai said.
Mingus Union golf is on the incline overall. Last year the boys made it to the state for the first time since 2009 and they won the section championship.
Mai said he thinks the gentlemen can repeat.
“I think that’s a very realistic goal,” Mai said.