April 13th, 2012

Elementary Excellence: SMM Golf

Sarah Newell

CSN Staff Writer

Elementary Excellence: SMM Golf
photo from facebook.com/St.MargaretMaryPTO

Mustangs’ Spring Sport Swings Into Session

The following feature is a part of a weekly series called "Elementary Excellence" - a set of profiles that will spotlight Louisville area Catholic elementary schools and its athletic programs, teams, traditions and excellence in all aspects of sports. Do you want your school to be featured? Send us your recommendation to editor@catholicsportsnet.com.

With a rich tradition on the greens, St. Margaret Mary’s Head Golf Coach says she’s excited for her third straight season with the team to get underway after spring break.

 “I don’t have the final numbers for the team yet, but one goal of mine is for us to win a city championship for at least one of our age groups this year,” said Bender. “We had our girls finish second last year, and I want our team to bring a city banner back to St. Margaret Mary.”

Born and raised in Louisville, Bender’s ties to golf surround her father’s role as the Head Professional at Long Run Golf Course and her playing time as she attended St. Barnabas Parish School, Assumption High School and Vanderbilt University.

“I came back to Louisville after college and started coaching at Assumption, and I saw the numbers of girls involved in golf increase there,” said Bender. “Now with St. Margaret Mary, my number one goal now is to get girls involved at a younger age. Last year, the fifth and sixth grade girls at SMM could field an entire team. We want to field teams at each level (age group).”

As a mother of four children at SMM and the current Sacred Heart Academy Golf Coach as well, Bender says she has a few ideas she wants to implement to improve the Mustangs’ game on the course.

“Golf is still new at St. Margaret Mary, but we are slowly building our program up. We are now getting the kids involved at the third grade level because we want them to learn at a younger age to get to know the sport and take a liking to it. I would like to do a two-day clinic this year for grades K-2 as well.”

With the season starting this month and finishing in June with the CSAA Championship held at Seneca Golf Course, Bender says she wants her student athletes to be prepared for competition, but to also have fun along the way.

“We practice once or twice a week at Long Run Golf Course, but I like to try to get our team into different locations to practice as well,” said Bender. “Golf can be more solitary, but the kids want to have some fun and enjoy it. So, my goal is to make golf fun in a low key environment.”

Bender hopes to also teach life lessons along with the fundamentals of the game.

“I think because I was basically raised on a golf course, I learned from an early age what golf can offer you in life. My father exposed the sport to me in a fun way with a great foundation, and I want that for other kids. With golf, you get to see values, honesty and integrity played out throughout the game. I know that how you play golf tells a lot about character in your own life.”

Above goals for each specific season, Bender hopes to see increased numbers in golf participation for youngsters. For an avid lover of the game, that’s par for the course.

Said Bender: “I hope my background in golf can help me serve as a role model. There are opportunities in this sport. From high school golf, for example, I saw the numbers drastically increase, and that’s exciting to me. I want to help get so many more kids involved in the sport.”


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