Young team seeks to build program with talent and dedication
Sports | Jared Nelson
Coach Trent Anderson and the women's golf team hopes to place in the top five at The MIAC Championships at Bunker Hills Golf Club, which is the last tournament of the fall season. | Photo for The Clarion by Kristine Schmidt
The Bethel women’s golf team is quietly making their bid for the best team you’ve never heard of. A roster loaded with young talent got off to a great start this fall with record setting performances; but the team remains largely unrecognized throughout Bethel’s campus.
“They come into the dining center with their team hats, shirts and skirts after a practice or a meet and people always ask if they're on the tennis team,” coach Trent Anderson said. “When they respond with news about golf, the response is usually ‘I didn't even know we had a women’s golf team.’”
The Royal golfers began camp a week before classes began and wasted no time in making headlines, defeating Augsburg and Northwestern in their first meet. Bethel was led by a pair of freshmen, as has been the case for much of this season. Abby Perrenoud shot a tournament-best 81 and fellow rookie Leah Swanson finished third with an 83.
Anderson couldn’t be happier with the contributions of his newcomers, especially considering that just a few years ago, he had to recruit two students from the golf class just to complete a roster.
“Of course the acquisition of four freshmen came with some anticipation,” Anderson said. “But we’ve come such a long way in this program that was built from scratch, where we have freshmen playing crucial roles for us.”
The Royals highlight of the season came on Sept. 7, when the ladies combined to shoot a 327 on the Saturday of the Cobber Open. It was the lowest 18-hole score in team history. This time it was Swanson leading the way with a 79, while four of her teammates provided plenty of help with a score of 85 or better.
“Golf at Bethel doesn’t have much of a tradition, but a round like that is something to build off of,” Anderson said. “Its exciting to see what we're capable of with a core of committed golfers.”
Anderson often refers to the ladies on his team as “committed” and “capable” because of their dedication to the team and drive to reach their potential. The excitement concerning the future doesn’t just reside with the coach, as the players are quick to echo Anderson’s sentiment. They aren’t just concerned with posting low scores, but they’ve included in their focus building a program that is a consistent contender and respected throughout the MIAC.
“We all want to improve as we continue our careers,” Perrenoud said. “I think that after gaining experience from this year, we will be able to be really competitive as a team and individuals in the coming years. We all really want to be a part of the team that makes a name for [Bethel] women's golf so we can have a solid program in the future, even after we graduate.”
There’s no doubt that Bethel is a program on the upswing, but Anderson notes that the rising prominence of women’s golf is a trend occurring in many conference schools.
“The rest of the MIAC is steadily improving right along with us, so it’s always a challenge,” he said. “We can’t get complacent with where we’re at right now.”
Coaches and players alike are focused on one thing in order to see their potential pan out into success: unity. The togetherness of the current squad is something that is emphasized by the veteran players and resonates throughout the entire program.
“Our unity is something we’ve seen tremendous growth in and has us excited about the future,” Anderson said. “We talk about how we're a family and we grow spiritually together and challenge one another in that regard.”
“The older players are such great influences and mentors for us freshmen,” Perrenoud said. “They’re willing to hang out with us outside of the golf course and we appreciate that. The girls on this team are the best part about Bethel golf.”
The MIAC Championships at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids is the only tournament remaining in the fall season for Anderson’s team. The team feels that if they can remain poised mentally, they have what it takes to place somewhere in the top five.
They’ll spend their winter putting on turf and driving into nets in the Robertson Center, until spring break comes when they’ll travel west to play in a tournament hosted by California Lutheran University. If Anderson’s team continues to improve, rising through the MIAC ranks, they will not be unrecognizable for long.