Wildcats hope to gain confidence under first year head coach
New Alpena High girls golf coach Tate Skiba isn’t making any bold predictions for this season.
For the Wildcats, this season will be all about gaining confidence on the golf course, gaining experience and laying a foundation for future success.
Skiba, who was hired in an 11th hour move, has experience as an assistant coach and a JV coach and believes he has a lot to offer his golfers when it comes to knowledge of the game.
“I’ve been a golfer for 20 years and it’s a lot of responsibility (being a head coach), but we have a lot of potential,” Skiba said. “We have an opportunity this year where we can grow. We’re in a position where we can lay some foundations for our program.”
Skiba is still getting to know his team, but as he takes over as the Wildcats’ coach, he’ll have two returners who offer plenty in the way of experience and leadership: junior Kennedy Ellis and sophomore Gianna Bolda.
Ellis returns for her third year of varsity golf after a busy summer golfing in the elite division of the Northern Michigan Tour. As a 10th grader, Ellis was one of three Alpena golfers to qualify for the Division 2 regional tournament. Golfing in her second regional, Ellis finished 21st overall.
With her golfing abilities and tournament experience, Skiba said Ellis will be a good anchor for this year’s team. As good as she’s been for two seasons, Ellis has only been golfing for a few years and Skiba believes she still has plenty of potential to unlock.
“She’s so devoted and has grown so much. She has the best attitude. Every day she’s out there and she’s smiling,” Skiba said. “She loves (the game) and it shows. It’s always good for a team to have someone like that.”
Bolda also qualified for regionals last year as a freshman and gained tournament experience after competing in the regional tournament as well as the Big North Championships. She carded a 141 and finished 47th.
As a first-time head coach, Skiba’s task is to teach his players the finer points of the game and for the newcomers, Skiba said one of his most important jobs will be teaching the Wildcats not to be intimidated on the course.
“It’s all about being confident on the golf course. There’s so many people and anybody that’s fairly new gets intimidated. There’s a lot of tradition, a lot of rules and a lot of hard work to put in when you decide to become a golfer,” Skiba said. “(It’s about getting them to understand that) you belong here, you’re willing to be here and you will be successful as a golfer.”