The lush green grass of the tee box sports its traditional buzz cut, offering its smooth, unruffled surface to the next golfer. A crowd slowly gathers around the box, a collection of students and coaches, a few supportive parents. They murmur among one another, a quiet collection of commentary awaiting the first shot. With a short, purposeful breath, a young woman removes a driver from her bag, palms a ball and tee in hand, and climbs the short mound to the tee box. She stares out across the fairway, which runs straight for nearly a hundred yards before banking gently left. A small, kidney-shaped sand trap, tucked into the curve, gleans in the sunlight. Her eyes trace a pair of birds that flutter across an otherwise empty canvas of sky. The tree line taunts her, a memory of her last hole that is all too fresh. With a tremble only she can detect, she sticks her tee in the grass and mounts the ball on top. She places her feet just beyond shoulder width, then wiggles them narrower. Back and forth, as subtly as she can — she never can remember the correct placement. Her trembles are growing despite her attempts to quell them and her hands grow clammy as they grip the club. In hopes of escape, she glances behind her, out of the box where her nerves took control. She locks eyes with her coach, who offers a reassuring smile and a small nod. No words, but enough. She returns her gaze to the tee, steals a glance at the fairway, expels a final breath, and hits her shot. For a moment, she flinches, unsure of her swing, but then she is watching as the ball turns in a beautiful, straight arc and lands in the fairway, just beyond the curve. The butterflies in her stomach evaporate, her hands relax and a smile breaks across her face. A small round of clapping rises around her and she breathes a sigh of relief. She’s an Eagle, and this is Hood River Valley High School’s Girls Golf.
The Girls Golf program at HRVHS welcomes a new coach and several players to its roster this year. Korey Cimock, a 2014 graduate who played soccer, ski racing and golf in high school, has returned to the latter sport this year as head coach of the girls team. Cimock has an extensive history with the game, hailing from a family of golfers and having played collegiately at Cal State Monterey Bay.
“This is my first year coaching golf,” said Cimock. “I was on the team for four years in high school, so it’s exciting to be back. I’ve never been a head coach before, so this is a new experience for me — so far I love it.”
Cimock has been back in the Hood River area for a while, substitute teaching and assisting with the HRV Ski team. She was offered the head coaching position after seeing Athletic Director Trent Kroll in the hallway, and started with the team a few weeks into the season. Her passion for the sport and the team is palpable, and the approach she takes as a coach focuses more on the personal development of each athlete rather than the competitive nature of the game.
“Golf is such a great sport because you can work on yourself individually as a person,” said Cimock. “There are a lot of emotions that come with golf, similar to how in high school you experience ups and downs. My goal as a coach is to get them to handle their emotions and gain confidence in knowing what they need to do when approaching each hole and what to focus on, and have that translate into how they handle the challenges of high school. I want them to gain confidence in themselves as people as well as in the game.”
Cimock’s approach will likely prove useful to the team, which is made up largely of athletes new to the game. Senior Victoria Ervin is one of the only experienced players and, as such, has assumed a de facto leadership role; she expresses the confidence Cimock strives to instill and is eager for what the season holds.
“I’m excited to have a full team this year,” said Ervin. “My personal goal for the season is to build competition experience. I feel ready to play my best and improve my scores.”
Learning a new sport is hard, regardless of what it entails. It may be easy to approach — kick the soccer ball, run around the track — but difficult to grasp in its entirety. When the technical aspects of any sport come into play and prove imperative to one’s success, the learning curve is compounded in size. What is the right club to use to escape a sand trap 30 yards from the green? How much push should one place on a 15-foot putt that slopes uphill? These are questions to be answered in time, but not ones Cimock is concerned with at the moment. Her focus is on the girls, their individual success and their enjoyment of the sport.
“I want them to continue to play the game, that’s most important,” said Cimock. “There may be a competitive nature for our more experienced players, but what I want is for them to keep playing the game and experience that personal growth. I love seeing them succeed; it makes me want to try harder and find new ways in helping them understand the game.”
While Cimock and the team may be focusing on the fundamentals of the game and their emotional approach to its challenges, their improvements indicate significant leaps collectively. Being such a young team, their strides move towards a bright horizon.
“The girls are making huge leaps in the game, taking strides every week in conquering different aspects of the game,” said Cimock. “I think that by the end of the season we can be top five in conference, absolutely.”
“It’s fun to learn a new sport, but golf can be hard to play,” said sophomore Claire Bokovoy. “I think when I practice and pay attention to the details of my swing, I hit the ball better.”
The girls golf team played last Saturday at the Ridgeview Ladies Invitational at Eagle Crest. Ervin led the four scoring players with a 116, followed by freshman Zoe Linder with a 128, Bokovoy with a 133 and freshman Elysa Mayner with a 148; the team total was 525. As the season continues and the team competes, Cimock remains enthusiastic at the helm.
“To integrate confidence in the game and in their lives — that’s the goal,” said Cimock. “I want to help them realize things they did and didn’t do well, and how they can continue to improve.”
The Eagles will play on April 15 at Meadows Lake Country Club.