‘Team Nine’

GVL / Emily Frye
Alex Taylor during the breast cancer golf match during the 2015-2016 season on Sunday March 16, 2016.

GVL / Emily Frye Alex Taylor during the breast cancer golf match during the 2015-2016 season on Sunday March 16, 2016.

Danny Schwartz

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Every season, Grand Valley State women’s golf coach Rebecca Mailloux nicknames her team with a number, with the 2016-17 team being “Team Nine,” the ninth team she’s coached at GVSU.

“Every week, someone different stepped up, and that was one of the greatest things about Team Nine,” Mailloux said.

One week it was Alex Taylor who stepped up. One week it was Mackenzie Blomberg, and then the next week it was Maria Sol Pose, a GVSU freshman from Argentina.

Mailloux particularity praised Sol’s performance at the regional championship as one of the biggest reasons they made it so far.

“If we were to say what got us to the national championships, certainly it took a team effort,” Mailloux said. “But Sol hadn’t been in the lineup in the two events prior to that, and I put her in the lineup at the regional championship and took a risk. She ended up finishing first on the team and was 100 percent the reason why we ended up making it to the national championship.”

Mailloux said the four players who finished behind Sol came up to her after the regional championship and said, “Thank you, Coach, for bringing Sol,” because they knew she had a huge impact on them advancing to the national championship. Mailloux credits Sol’s performance in the regional championship as the standout performance of the season.

The regional championship win led GVSU to the national championship, where they finished in 12th place out of 12 teams that made it to the NCAA Division II National Championship. The championship was stretched out to four rounds over four days at Findlay Country Club from Wednesday, May 17, through Saturday, May 20.

In the opening round, GVSU shot a 337 (+49). In the second round, they shot a 319 (+31). GVSU then shot a 322 (+34) in the third round and a 310 (+22) in the final round, which was their best round of the tournament. GVSU remained in 12th place for all four rounds and finished with an overall score of 1,288 (+136). Barry won the event with a 1,222 (+70) overall.

Individual leaders for GVSU included Taylor, who was proud of her team’s performance but still knew the team was better than how they performed.

“We did everything we could to prepare ourselves for the national championship, and I know we wish we could’ve done a little better,” Taylor said. “It was just really the first day that we dug ourselves into a hole that was too hard to get out of. We still ended up being the 12th best team in the country, so while we definitely could’ve done better, the season was still a success.”

Taylor, who graduated and will not be returning next year, believes that with new players coming in and the team learning from their mistakes this season, they’ll come back next year and be a better team.

Julie Guckian, another GVSU golfer who has graduated and will not be returning next season, said one of the team’s biggest strengths was their preparation.

“Towards the end of the season we really worked on our short game,” Guckian said. “Putting, chipping and shots like that. Going into nationals we knew we’d played that course so many times, playing there at least once a year, and we knew the course pretty well and what we had to practice.”

Mailloux believes that their pinnacle of success was actually making it to the national championship and finishing second at regionals. Another highlight was finishing ahead of Missouri St. Louis and Findlay to advance to the national championship.

Mailloux also believes that while Team Nine may not be the most physically talented team she’s ever coached, it is one of the most optimistic, hard-working teams she’s coached. 

The team returns to play at the end of August, and Mailloux is hoping that “Team 10” will find even more success than Team Nine.