By Jeff Odom
In his first season at the helm, Wesley Chapel boys golf coach Mike Rogers wanted to teach his squad the fundamentals of the game while polishing each Wildcat into a better player.
Wesley Chapel was fresh off of a Class 1A regional title and state tournament appearance when Rogers took over for Alan Black, who retired in 2010 after leading the program for its first 11 seasons.
Now, the time has come for Rogers to write his own success story with the squad.
“I’m looking forward to another exciting year,” said Rogers, who also serves as the school’s athletic director. “We have some new faces on the team with some new kids that are coming up and are hopefully going to give us a jolt to our team. We’ve got a little more competition out there this year, so I think it will be good to have them compete against each other and do some pretty good things in the conference again this year.”
The Wildcats return plenty of leadership from last season’s squad, including senior John Nickisher, who earned a spot in regionals last season. Also back are sophomore Corey Mumaw and junior Noah Fleck.
Fleck said he expects the program to take steps beyond last season’s mark and return to the regional and state tournaments.
“I think the goal of any team is to improve from last year and just play the hardest,” Fleck said. “I’ve been playing at junior tournaments and in my neighborhood to prepare, and play as much as we can.”
Turner Imhoff transferred to Wesley Chapel from Pasco this summer. The junior has played with Fleck since he was younger. Imhoff said Wesley Chapel can stack up well against any team.
“I think we should do well,” Imhoff said. “I’ve been playing with Noah since I was little, and I think we have a stronger team bond. We have (some) very good guys on this team and a lot of solid golfers, so I really feel that we’ll have a chance at regionals.”
Adding to the new faces is junior Kevin Blum, who will be participating in his first season of competitive golf. He said Fleck, who taught him how to play and jokingly describes Blum as his “prodigy,” motivated and convinced him to join the team this year.
“He introduced me to golf, and I’m actually pretty good at it, so I came out (for the team),” Blum said. “I hope to get in the matches and play well, and just do what I’ve been doing out here in practice.”
Rogers said the key for another competitive year will be to keep the same focus during the entire season. He added if each golfer can do that and show the necessary leadership, the victories will come.
“Last year we were just inconsistent from one match to another, and we have to just have more consistency with each golfer in each match and build upon each week,” Rogers said. “I think having some of the leadership and experience playing from either another school or being on the team the past few years and having the maturity will filter down to some of the younger kids, and they’ll be able to see that and grow into leaders on the team as well.”
Wesley Chapel opens the season by hosting cross-town rival Wiregrass Ranch Aug. 28 at Lexington Oaks Golf Club starting at 3:30 p.m.