Bremerton golf back on par

Bremerton High School girls golf coach Emily Crawford (right) holds practice Tuesday at Gold Mountain Golf Course. - Mike Baldwin/staff photo
Bremerton High School girls golf coach Emily Crawford (right) holds practice Tuesday at Gold Mountain Golf Course.
— image credit: Mike Baldwin/staff photo

Bremerton High School senior Miranda Shearer wanted two things for her senior year: to hang out with two of her closest friends and play golf.

And with the resurrection of Bremerton’s golf program, starting March 15 against North Mason High School at White Horse Golf Course in Kingston, she has got her wish.

Shearer, along with seniors Allie Smith and Abigail Crawford, formed a friendship on the golf course as freshmen in 2008.

But then the program was cut because of budget scale-backs. Now the boys team will be coached by Athletic Director George Duarte. The girls team will be coached by volunteer Emily Crawford. Neither will be paid.

For Shearer, the return of golf at Bremerton means reuniting with the freshmen girls who competed in the program before it was cut.

“It means a lot that George would take us into consideration,” the senior said Tuesday. “He tried as hard as he could to get it back and he did a great job. It will be so cool to play with the seniors and see how we all get along again this season.”

Crawford, a 2004 Bremerton graduate and four-year golfer with the school, was the girls coach for three seasons before its elimination.

The coaches hosted their first practices last week, and Crawford said she’s content with the turnout so far. The girls team has 11 on the roster, while the boys have 12. Crawford is also looking forward to reuniting with Shearer and the two other seniors who will join eight new athletes.

“The interest is still there, and that’s most exciting for us,” she added. “It’s great to be back. It really shows that the community wants the girls out here. It’s not just about money, but about coming out and playing golf. I’ve never seen this before in any other sport.”

Both coaches will volunteer their duties for the first season, but Duarte said Monday that could change in 2012 with more funding.

Currently, Duarte is working with Gold Mountain Golf Club’s Scott Alexander, who serves as the director of golf at the Bremerton 36-hole municipal course that hosts Bremerton home matches. The club will cover the program’s expenses, which include fees to invitationals, transportation and volunteer professionals to work with the golfers, who must provide their own golf clubs.

The course held multiple fundraisers for the Knights this past year, raising enough money to help bring back the teams, Duarte said. Gold Mountain will also provide a van if needed for trips to road matches. The Bremerton athletic director added that bringing back golf is solely for the kids, like Shearer and her friends.

“Those students have a love for the game and take it seriously,” he added. “By bringing it back, it’s another chance to expose the kids to the sport and expose them to as many programs as possible.”

Senior Aaron Nagle, who also played football for Bremerton last season, said Tuesday that he’s thrilled about golfing for the Knights. This season will be his first on the links as he hopes to learn the sport from Duarte and the volunteers.

“Like any sport, a lot of kids stay out of trouble if they’re able to do something they’re into,” said Nagle, who added that he wouldn’t try golf if it wasn’t offered by the school. “I think that if more kids are able to tryout for a sport like golf, then more kids will stay away from doing something bad.”

Duarte, who took over the boys team when no other volunteer stepped forward, said Monday that it’s possible both coaching positions will remain unpaid in 2012, but he believes the current situation is temporary.

“That’s not where we want to be,” he added. “We want to compensate any coaches who would give up the time to do this.”

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