Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Henderson International golfer is a one-person team

By Anthony Fenech (contact)

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009 | 4:14 p.m.

The old adage says there’s no “I” in “Team.”

Henderson International golfer Sarah Thomas humbly disagrees.

She’s only two months into high school, drives 200 yards off the tee, scores in the high 70s and, for all intents and purposes, the freshman is Henderson International’s girls golf team.

Just ask her teammates. That is, if she had any.

“It’s different,” she said. “It’s not too bad right now but I’d like to have some girls out there. But I’ve had a lot of girls come up to me and ask about golf, saying they're interested in it so hopefully next year we’ll have a real team started and it will continue to grow.”

The origin of the Wolverines golf team begins in a backyard in North Carolina, as young Sarah approached her dad, Steven, who was lofting golf balls into a softball field one morning.

“She got really excited about it,” Steven Thomas said. “So we bought her some plastic clubs.”

As Sarah peddled around with the game for the first few years, the plastic clubs eventually became titanium and the casual play led to tournaments around the age of 8.

“We just tried to help any way we could by getting her introduced to coaches and getting her tournament experience,” her father said. “We knew it was a great opportunity for her.”

Years later, after a cross-country move from North Carolina to Nevada, father and daughter walked in to the office of Henderson International Athletic Director Mike Ostrowski with an idea.

“They approached me, said she played a lot of golf and asked if it was something we could do,” Ostrowski said. “For a school of our size (roughly 100 students), these are the kind of sports we’re looking to start and grow.”

Ostrowski then contacted the Nevada Interscholastic Athletic Association, took the appropriate steps to get started and shortly thereafter, Sarah Thomas became the pioneer of the Henderson International girls golf team.

“She’s the leader,” Ostrowski said. “You can sense the enthusiasm in the school community and it’s triggered some interest in golf.”

Thomas has been competing two classifications higher this season, in the 3A Southern League, where she has more than held her own in her debut season, averaging a hair over 78. Henderson International competes in the state’s 1A classification, but has to play up for girls golf because 1A schools don’t field golf teams.

“It’s nice to have competition,” she said. “Playing with these girls helps me push myself.”

Next year, Ostrowski is confident Thomas won’t be the school’s lone golfer. Her success has created interest in other students to get involved.

“Any time we can get a new program started with a person of Sarah’s talent level as the model, it generates a lot of buzz,” Ostrowski said.

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