Dodds steps in for Hettermann as STM's coach

Dodds steps in for Hettermann as STM's coach

Dodds steps in for Hettermann as STM's coach

CHAMPAIGN — For 15 years, St. Thomas More girls' golf has been synonymous with Pat Hettermann, the only coach the Sabers had ever known.

All things change with time, though. And Hettermann decided her storied tenure was due to end after the 2017 campaign.

STM's next leader will try to stack up to a woman who paced the Sabers to the 2010 Class A title, three more state trophies, seven qualifications for the end-of-season tournament, five sectional crowns and eight regional plaques.

No pressure, right? Apparently there isn't any for Alan Dodds, who on Tuesday was selected to take over for Hettermann.

"Knowing Pat was going to step down, it was attractive to try and follow her," Dodds said. "She was just wonderful. Big shoes to fill, for sure."

The 56-year-old Dodds is an interesting choice to helm this STM program. He's never before coached a prep golf squad, but he's uniquely familiar with how the Sabers operate on the links.

Son Ben was part of STM's state-champion boys' group in 2008. Daughter Caroline golfed under Hettermann as a high-schooler. And Dodds filled in for Hettermann here and there when she'd have to miss an event during Caroline's years.

"I started playing at age 8 or 9," Dodds said. "The game continues to be a loving thing for me."

Dodds said the position only showed up on his radar during a round on the links with the father of rising junior golfer Sammy Miller. After an interview last week with STM co-athletic director Josh Hinkley, Dodds was offered the role.

"I'm just excited for the opportunity," Dodds said. "I had a meeting (Tuesday) with the returning players. They're a super nice group of girls, and a nice group of parents."

The Sabers notched fourth as a unit in the 2017 Class 1A state finals and will lose three seniors from that club. Chief among them is Kait Asklund, who tied for 27th at the state meet at Decatur's Red Tail Run Golf Course.

But Dodds will maintain the other five individuals who scored for STM at state, including rising junior Alaina Bowie, The News-Gazette's Golfer of the Year in 2017, and her third-place display.

Dodds said he isn't setting concrete goals for his girls despite their recent success. If the Sabers feel positively about how the 2018 season plays out, then Dodds will be pleased by the outcome.

But don't take that to mean Dodds isn't aiming to get STM back to the top of the state podium.

"With the success last year, it's just a big opportunity to keep it going and possibly even improve," he said. "Hopefully they'll have some good memories and some great camaraderie."