Girls golf claims title, boys golf sends first to regionals
By Kyle LoJacono
A year ago Academy at the Lakes did not have enough girls golfers to field a team for the district tournament and this season the squad put the first title in the school’s trophy case.
“The boys have had a team for a couple years and it was great to have a girls team that could compete in the (Florida High School Athletic Association) district tournament this year,” said Kevin Crowley, who coaches the boys and girls teams. “It was a very exciting year for us.”
Mark Heller, head of the school, said one week into the season it did not look like they would have four girls golfers, the minimum to compete in districts.
“That’s one of the things I’m very proud of,” Heller said. “Ellen (Crowley) had been competing with the boys for the last couple years because she loves golf. She knew her friend Alex (Aucoin) wanted to have a soccer team, so they made a deal to play golf and soccer. That meant we had enough kids for a girls golf and girls soccer team for the first time. That’s working together and I’m proud of them for doing that.”
The academy started competing in FHSAA events in 2007. That year Ellen and former Wildcat Alexandra Irish were the only two girls golfers. Irish won the individual district championship and went on to compete in the state tournament.
“It was fun golfing before and with the boys team, but it’s nice to have a girls team to be a part of,” Ellen said, who is a junior and Kevin’s daughter. “There’s something about being part of a team that is exciting.”
Aucoin, a senior, said golf was not her favorite sport entering the year, but she is very glad she gave it a try.
“Really, in the beginning, it was just so I could have a soccer team to play on,” Aucoin said. “I was really proud and a little surprised we won the district. It’s great to have the first team championship in school history.”
The youngest player on the team is Paulina Agudelo, a sophomore, who has learned a lot from her coach.
“He’s taught me how to play,” Agudelo said. “He made us all better and I think we can be even better next year with his coaching.”
Anna Fornelli, who competed last year with Ellen, thinks part of the improvement could come from increased interest and
participation at the school.
“Alex is graduating and we’ll need a good player to replace her, but there’ve been a lot of people talking about the team,” Fornelli said. “I think we’ll have more than four players next year.”
The girls team won the Class 1A, District 9 title at their home course of Plantation Palms Golf Club, 23253 Plantation Palms Blvd. in Land O’ Lakes, with a score of 488. Assistant Peggy Crowley thanked the course for allowing both the girls and boys teams to practice there all year.
Ellen shot an 86 at districts, tied for the second best score. Fornelli came in with an 88, fourth best, while Agudelo (11th) and Aucoin (12th) had a 146 and 168 repetitively.
“I wasn’t surprised that they won,” Heller said. “I’ve seen them put in the time and effort and it shows what hard work can do.”
The Wildcats did not advance in the 1A, Region 3 tournament, but Fornelli and Ellen posted scores of 86 and 93 respectively.
Also doing new things for the Wildcats this year is senior Mike Davidson. He is the first boys golfer at the academy to advance individually to regionals. He shot 98 in the 1A-9 tournament.
“I was proud to get to regionals,” Davidson said. “It was great to do it my senior year.”
The season ended in regionals for both Davidson and the girls team, but the achievements wound up better than their expectations.
“We just wanted to be able to play in districts this year when we started,” Ellen said. “Then we wanted to make it to regionals and winning the title was just icing on the cake.”