Elk Grove girls golf coach Kristen Gierman said she will most remember her team by one defining feature.
Everyone in her team photo was wearing a mask.
Thanks to the new regulations and protocols around the Covid-19 pandemic that the Elk Grove boys and girls golf teams faced — such as mask-wearing and social distancing — the teams had to prepare for the start of a season that could have changed at any moment.
“Among our golfers, it was not easy to mentally or physically prepare when our season was in question nearly all summer long,” Gierman said in an email. “Yet our athletes took it upon themselves to enter the season willing to give it their all not knowing if the season would last a week and be shut down or embody as close to a typical season as possible.”
Despite the challenges, the boys and girls golf teams were able to wrap up their seasons in October with success.
Going back to the summer camp, each athlete was responsible to prepare individually for the upcoming season.
“I commend our athletes for their ongoing willingness this season to listen and learn in all facets of the sport from coaches and peers alike,” Gierman said. “That is how we will continue to get better as a program both now and in the future.”
And although the pandemic affected the season, Gierman says it brought her squad even closer together.
“We were more unified this season as a program thanks to the obstacles presented by the pandemic,” Gierman said via email.
Gierman said that her favorite moment of the season was senior day, which is when she honors her seniors’ commitment to the program.
“It is a great opportunity to recognize the work individuals have invested in the sport throughout their high school career,” Gierman said via email.
As for the boys team, head coach Brian Bucciarelli also said he saw immense strides taken towards success this season as a program.
“The team grew and developed a bunch from the start of the year till the end,” Bucciarelli said in an email. “We had three golfers qualify for sectionals and two of them were a freshman and a junior.”
And with the pandemic still going on, Bucciarelli said it was good to have something normal back during such an uncertain time.
Just like Gierman, Bucciarelli was impressed with the leadership and teamwork shown by upperclassmen and veterans of the program.
“The season was refreshing for everyone,” he said in an email. “The ability to have a little bit of normalcy in our lives and connect with students was fantastic.”
And on the course this season, led by a core of three seniors, the team finished third place in regionals, advancing three golfers to sectionals: senior Dean Carlson, junior Cooper Moellenkamp and freshman Charlie Carlson.
“I am looking forward to next season, because we have three of our top four golfers returning and plan on us competing around the middle of the conference; which is very exciting,” Bucciarelli said via email.
And when looking forward to next season, both coaches don’t have a certain idea of what to expect due to the pandemic.
“I hope the pandemic ends sooner than later and the IHSA allows the rest of the season’s coaches to have that connection with their athletes and compete. Because it was good for both athletes and coaches,” Bucciarelli said via email.
As for Gierman, she said she echoes the hope that everything returns to normal next season.
“Though we were fortunate to play this season, it looked a lot different than a typical fall,” Gierman said via email.