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Under the helm of Country Christian Elementary AD Mike Meisch, Cougars embark on new jouney

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Country Christian's Sophia Griffith is a part of the first wave of golfers for the high school. Country Christian has itself a new spring sport.

The girls golf program is officially up and running as a spring option for the athletes of the Country Christian School. Before this year, the schools female athletes have gone to Canby, Molalla, or Colton to compete in track and field, tennis, or golf programs at those locations. Now, an option is available for the girls at home.

According to first year girls golf coach Mike Meisch, the program came about as the school wanted to give its girls an option in the spring. Between tennis and golf, the girls voted for the latter and the rest was history.

"It has been an incredibly upbeat experience," Meisch said. "It's been something these girls are excited about, they're loving it, and it's something they can do once high school is done. It's not something you stop when you're done playing. It's a lifetime sport. A lot of the girls have parents who play and so it's one of those things they can play with their dads or their moms, so they can have a family experience too."

Initially, 14 girls showed interest in the program, but when it was said the final roster filled out to 11 golfers who have been competing with limited to no experience. This first year, according to Meisch, is about creating a love for the game.

With so many new faces, the team is also fluid in terms of who makes the roster for varsity and who doesn't.

"We really don't have a JV and a varsity, they're all classified as varsity, being a first year program," Meisch said. "We just divided it up between the tournaments and flip flop girls between varsity and JV. Some do it one tournament, some do it the next."

Meisch, the new girls' golf coach, is not new to coaching generally. Having coached various sports at the elementary, junior high, and high school level, Meisch draws upon his own golf experience to help supplement his new position. Meisch is also the elementary athletic director for Country Christian, and in talking with high school AD Janin McGrath, the idea seemed like a no-brainer. But even with his experience, it hasn't been without its challenges.

"Learning the rules on tournament days has been the biggest challenge on tournament days," Meisch said. "When you're coaching basketball or volleyball, you're engaged the entire game and coaching your players up. When it comes to golf, when they're on a hole, there is no coaching. You're only allowed to coach in between holes when they tee off, per USGA and OSAA rules."

Unlike the baseball team which is a joint effort between Country Christian and North Clackamas Christian, the 11 girls on the golf team's roster are exclusively from Country Christian. Given the familiarity and respect the girls have with each other, Meisch hasn't seen a need for team captains at this juncture.

"We don't have team captains," Meisch said. "The girls all really respect each other and are friends among each other, so we haven't really decided about captains yet. We don't have anybody who is the outspoken leader, if that makes sense."

The girls will be competing in Special District 1 against a whole host of other schools ranging from 1A all the way up to 4A, and while the bigger schools may have more athletes to draw from, Meisch and crew have discovered that there a large number of new golfers on the scene, which evens the playing field a little in terms of experience.

"There are a couple of schools with girls that can play, but outside of that the girls are finding out that they're right there with the rest of them," Meisch said. "With golf being an individual sport, you're not hampered by an overloaded team. You can have one special player, but if the rest of the team isn't up to par, who knows?"

The team's next match will be at the Meriwether National Golf Club in Hillsboro on Thursday, April 25.

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