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Young Coalers trying to grow up

As the tenure of head coach David Sinkular reaches double digits, Coal City enters the 2013 varsity boys golf season fresh off of a 6-12 season.

But Sinkular, who is 86-74 in his nine years at the helm of the Coalers, is optimistic about the Coalers’ ability to get back to winning. Alex Wills, the boys’ only returning senior, and Alyssa Erickson, a senior and the only girl on the team this year, lead a young team that may be on the upswing, so to speak.

“We are very junior-heavy with a sprinkle of underclassmen that will be strong as well,” Sinkular said in an email. “I really like that we are set up for a lot of growth and hopefully a strong future. The majority of our regional team is back this year and another year of development for players like Zack Spesia, Jack Scerine, Bailey Durkin, Ryan Elliot and Cody Jerz is only going to solidify their play.

“My expectations for this year’s team is to finish better than last year. We have struggled for the past couple of years, and with the majority of players coming back, I expect them to want to do better than what we have.”

When Wills was an underclassman himself, there were a few other members of his class on the golf team. Initially he was not one of them. He tried football as a freshman before deciding it was not for him and switching sports.

Now, Wills is adjusting to being one of the few upperclassmen on the team.

“I think it comes with being a senior, having to lead the team more,” Wills said. “We have almost everyone returning this year. ... We just need to keep our practicing up and we should be a lot better. We have a lot (of players) returning, and that’s big because they know the experience of playing on varsity now.”

The only fourth-year member of the team, Erickson says she experienced being the only girl on the team as a freshman, though there were others her sophomore and junior seasons. She will be in the junior varsity lineup, she says, for Monday’s opener and hopes to crack the varisty at some point if her scores are low enough.

“Being the only girl is fine with me. It’s less of a distraction, actually. You can practice without having someone to talk to all the time,” Erickson said. “I like playing with the boys. It’s more challenging to try to keep up with them. Then, toward the end of the season, for regionals and conference, I go back to playing with the girls. I get to move up (to womens’ tee boxes), so that’s an advantage after I’ve been playing further back.”

The Coalers’ only sectional qualifier in 2012, sophomore Matt Gubelman, is back for the Coalers, and there is more youth behind him in freshmen Clayton Cash, Colin Erickson and Cameron Stiles. There is potential in the underclassmen, Sinkular feels, but he does not know quite what he has yet. As of Thursday afternoon, the Coalers had officially practiced once.

“I am worried the inexperience of some of our players. Playing in tournaments and matches is a little different from playing on their own,” Sinkular said. “However, we have shown that we can handle that lack of experience in the past and I hope that it is the case again this year.”

The lineup the Coalers use in Monday’s season opener is unlikely to remain stagnant throughout the season. With three matches scheduled per week for the first four weeks of the season, there could be plenty of chances for fringe players to break through.

“Our lineup is probably going to fluctuate a lot throughout the early parts of the season,” Skinular said.

While the Coalers will see other Interstate Eight Conference schools at Tuesday’s Bobcat and Indian Invitational, which Sandwich co-hosts, they officially open conferernce play Aug. 27 when they host Peotone and Sandwich. It is at that point that their schedule will play out a bit differently than in years past.

“I am really looking forward to the conference schedule this year as the I-8 has tweaked our system to make sure that every team plays every school,” Sinkular said. “We will also be changing the All-Conference selections to a season-long process which should make each match exciting.”

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