Youth serves Glenbrook North's state-bound girls golf team
Mike Schroeder's effectiveness coaching girls has been proven.
He's got three of them right at home -- Camryn and Brooke, both still around the toddler stage, and little Claire, who Mike's wife, Jami, delivered just two weeks ago.
Mike Schroeder's expertise extends to the golf course, where he is in his 10th year as Glenbrook North's girls golf coach. Even coming off last year's eighth-place Class 2A finish, the Spartans this season have achieved unprecedented success behind a core of young players.
On Monday at Heritage Oaks Golf Club, the Spartans won their own Class 2A sectional, the first girls golf sectional title in Glenbrook North history.
That came on the heels of the Spartans' New Trier regional title Sept. 29 at Winnetka Golf Club, also a first -- as was the team's first Central Suburban League South conference title the week before.
"We've had some good teams in the past, but this team's really special," said Schroeder, a 19-year special education teacher at Glenbrook North.
Naturally, he gives the credit to the players themselves. They may be young, but as one of 12 teams -- plus 40 individuals such as Glenbrook South senior Effie Perakis that advanced out of sectionals into this weekend's 2A state finals at Decatur's Hickory Point Golf Course -- they came in hot.
"We just have a lot of young players that were coming in ready to compete. We've got a lot of firepower with these incoming freshmen and the sophomores that we have," Schroeder said.
The sectional lineup that won at Heritage Oaks on Monday was freshmen Martha Kuwahara and Laura Hu; sophomores Alexis Myers, Kacie Moon and Lily Saed; and junior Alina Chie. Myers, Moon and Kuwahara all have won tournaments this season, Schroeder said.
Myers, who tied for 17th place individually last year in 2A (Moon tied for 24th), earned medalist honors at Heritage Oaks by shooting a 69, tying the program record for the best 18-hole round with Emma Vickery in 2016. Myers carded an eagle 2 on No. 12, driving large on the 385-yard hole, then holing out.
"She's a real big hitter off the tee, and a good ball striker all around," Schroeder said.
The Spartans also offer seniors Chloe Hwang, Kate Leverenz and Hannah Oh, and freshmen Alison Chung, Erin Jeon and Shayla Freid.
The coach said the seniors support their underclass teammates.
"They're excited for the team," Schroeder said Monday. "They came out today to cheer them on, so they love it. They're excited about the way they play golf."
There should be much North Shore excitement down in Decatur.
Along with Perakis, the regional medalist with a 71 at Winnetka Golf Club and runner-up to Myers at Heritage Oaks, both Loyola and New Trier return to the state finals after placing third and fifth, respectively, in 2021.
Bailey Bitbabo, who tied Myers in 17th place a year ago, and 22nd-place finisher Katie Magnier both return for Loyola.
Usual suspect Amy Beanblossom, who tied Magnier at 22nd last season, heads New Trier with strong support by Alexa Green. Beanblossom was runner-up to Perakis at the regional.
Defending 2A champion Barrington also returns, runner-up at the Huntley sectional to last year's Class 2A runner-up Stevenson, which dealt Glenbrook North its only 3 losses this fall, while the Spartans beat 71 other teams throughout the season.
In a tournament at Hickory Point way back on Aug. 12, the first match of the season, Stevenson and Glenbrook North placed first and second ahead of another title contender, Hinsdale Central. The Spartans' team score of 293 set a program record.
It's not a matter of being too young to feel pressure or to understand the ramifications of tournament play, Schroeder said. The girls came in tested after having played in Illinois Golf Association and American Junior Golf Association events in the summer.
"I know they are young, but they're used to the intensity of competition," Schroeder said.
Once in the 12-team field in Decatur, anything's possible.
"We know what our team's capable of if they do well," Schroeder said. "If they have a good round, we're hoping to win a title."