'Betsy golf team aims high in '03

By Ivan Sanders
STAR STAFF
isanders@starhq.com
Golf is a sport just like any other that allows the player to achieve levels based upon how much effort he is willing to put into his success. Based upon this assessment, the Elizabethton Cyclone program could be sitting pretty by season's end if the team continues to focus on the task at hand.
"I tell my kids that if you don't prepare yourself and work hard, you will never get any better," said EHS golf coach Dave Rider. "Most of these guys have took me up on that and have stayed out here on the course all summer playing to make themselves better prepared and better golfers."
Elizabethton opened up the 2003 season by taking a 16-stroke match win against four other teams at the Elizabethton Golf Course thanks in part to a huge outing by the number one and number two golfers on the team. Senior Bradley Brown and junior Eric Carter finished one and two respectively in the match against Unaka, University High, Sullivan North, and Happy Valley with Brown carding a 37 and Carter a 38.
Rider will be hanging his hat on these two players plus returning senior Craig Shaw, junior Jared Thomas, sophomore Caleb Tull, and freshman Jacob Thomas. The Cyclones decided on a seeding for the first tournament by playing an intersquad match against each other with the lowest score being the number one golfer and then on down the line.
"Eric, Craig and Bradley have an opportunity to be really good golfers for our program," stated Rider. "The Thomas brothers, Jared and Jacob have really worked hard and came a long way also. Caleb is a new kid to me and I will be keeping a close eye on his progress as well."
Added Rider: "All these kids work extremely hard and are a real fun bunch to be around. I don't have to worry about them because they are all good students and do all I ask of them."
The only sore spot for the Cyclones this season will be its depth. With only six golfers out for the team, there is a gap created in several different areas for the EHS program.
"Our lack of depth creates a situation that hurts us in practice because it takes away a competitive edge that most teams have by being deeper," remarked Rider when asked about a weakness of the team. "Even though we don't have the extra golfers, these kids really get after one another in practice, so that helps to make it a little more competitive for them."
When asked how he saw the district panning out for the year, Rider noted that UH always has a good golf program and that North and Happy Valley have had a turnover in its coaches. With the change being made by the other programs, Rider realizes that the Cyclones will have to be ready to go and learn by putting its feet to the fire to see how the standings could possibly shape up.
Said Rider: "I know that Rik Anderson at Happy Valley is a real good golfer and loves competition. If the other programs get the numbers out needed to be competitive, the conference should shake out to be pretty tough. I just hope that we can fit into the mix as the season gets deeper into the schedule."
Elizabethton will use the matches it participates in to determine the positions the golfers will line up in for the following tournament based upon low score. By doing this Rider feels that his team will strive to improve, as the kids will look to move up from the positions they currently are playing in.
With a continued surge toward improvement, the EHS program could very well see at least two if not more reach the state finals at season's end. Again, it will rest upon each player to place an emphasis on improvement through practice and carrying that same attitude into the matches slated for the new season.