Lady Eagles look to make mark

Geoff Backlund stood about 10 feet away from Lady Eagle golfer Tiffany Thompson as the Lady Eagles hit the links for the first time, offering her some encouragement before an approach shot.

“If you hit it on the green,” Backlund said, “I’ll give you a standing ovation.”

“You’re already standing,” Thompson replied.

“But I’m not ovating,” Backlund said smiling.

In his three seasons as Klahowya golf coach, Geoff Backlund has never had more than a single girl on the team. With three girls turning out this season, the Lady Eagles are still one player shy of fielding a team but are having as much fun as ever.

“I have more girls in total this year than in all my years of coaching,” Backlund said. “To get three in one year is awesome. They are raw beginners, but they are just eating it up and loving it.”

Along with Thompson, fellow Lady Eagles Haylee Ellis and Trisha Rarey are hoping to start building a girls golf tradition at Klahowya.

“It’s awesome,” Backlund said. “First we had Haylee come on and I said, ‘Talk to as many of your friends as you can.’ When you know they have another year or two, they’ll get better as individuals. It will kind of snowball and hopefully build from there.”

It will be a season of growing pains for the Lady Eagles, as the squad had played just three holes prior to Wednesday’s match against Foster at Gold Mountain Golf Complex.

“With them it’s such basics that its just trying to get them early success,” Backlund said. “It’s been really difficult for me this year because I’m really stretched for time. In years past I was really able to focus on the guys.”

While most schools have separate boys and girls coaches, Backlund handles both duties for Klahowya. As a result, he said whenever he focuses on one group, he inadvertently feels like he’s slighting another.

But Backlund said a second coach may still be added, although more as an assistant to both teams. And regardless of whether the squad is able to compete in its exhibitions, Backlund said improvement will be seen, but most of all, fun.

“I love it,” Backlund said. “Just messing with them and playing with them a little bit. It’s fun. I just wish we had one more because then we’d have a full squad.”

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