AAgirls golf coaches

St. Thomas More girls’ golf coaches Alan Dodds, right, and Kim Zahrn, hold up the regional championship plaque the Sabers won this season at Lincolnshire Fields Country Club in Champaign this past Monday. Dodds is The News-Gazette’s 2020 All-Area girls’ golf Coach of the Year and is now a three-time recipient of the award.

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Why he’s Coach of the Year: A three-time recipient of this award across as many seasons in charge of the Sabers, Dodds and assistant coach Kim Zahrn oversaw continued success for the longtime local leading girls’ golf program. STM captured its fifth regional plaque in as many years and would have qualified for state in a non-pandemic season, tying for second in a rugged Class 1A sectional. Despite losing multi-time Player of the Year Alaina Bowie to graduation, the Sabers kept on rolling behind Dodds, Zahrn and the strong pairing of Mia Kirby and Brooke Erhard.

Why he first decided to coach golf: “I was approached in the summer of 2018 by a friend, Jeff Miller, who had a daughter who was going to be a junior on the STM girls’ team. He mentioned Coach (Pat) Hettermann was not returning and the school hadn’t found a replacement. I kind of laughed it off when he asked if I would consider coaching, but then went home and shared it with my wife Merredith, who encouraged me to look into it further. When I found out Kim Zahrn was interested in helping, we decided to give it a try.”

His top highlight from the season: “I was especially pleased with how we performed in the postseason. We shot a season-best 351 to finish second in our conference meet to a very good Central Catholic team. We went up to Shewami Country Club and won our fifth regional in a row, then finished the season with a tied-for-second finish at sectionals at The Rail in Springfield, which would have qualified us for the state meet if it had been played. When we lost Alaina Bowie and Sammy Miller to graduation at the end of last season, I thought getting this team back to state was pretty unlikely. A tremendous amount of credit to our girls. All five returning players worked hard this summer and lowered their 18-hole average by at least 5 shots this fall.”

The most challenging part of his season: “Scheduling. Close to half of our meets got canceled due to state restrictions on who we could play, and we were fortunate to replace most of them. Our new AD, Jon Marston, was extremely helpful in making this work. He and I spent a lot of time trying to new meets to play in.”

His favorite event of the season: “Maybe the first meet of the year, the Blue Ridge Invitational up at Woodlawn Country Club in Farmer City. We won the team title, and Brooke got second and Mia got third individually. But what made the day so rewarding was just that we got the chance to play. We were thrilled to just be out on the golf course.”

What it meant for his team to play during the pandemic: “There’s always great memories that are built during a golf season, and this fall was no exception. But if the season had been canceled, Kim and I would have most missed building the relationships with the girls. We both enjoy talking with them about so many things other than golf. For the older girls, hearing about their college plans is always exciting.”

His top career golf accomplishment as a coach: “Last year at the state championship, we had a disappointing first day and shot a team score of 349. On the second day, we came back to shoot 319, for a tournament total of 668. The whole team was on fire the second day, and we broke several school records that weekend. That score was 27 shots better than the STM team that won state in 2010 and was good enough to win the state title in four of the previous five years.”

His top career golf accomplishment as a player: “I’m an average player, so my list of accomplishments is short. Each summer our club has a handicapped match-play event called the President’s Cup, and I have thoroughly enjoyed playing against some of the best players in town.”

Honor roll: Previous All-Area girls' golf Coaches of the Year

YEAR COACH SCHOOL

2020 Alan Dodds St. Thomas More

2019 Alan Dodds St. Thomas More

2018 Alan Dodds St. Thomas More

2017 Pat Hettermann St. Thomas More

2016 Pat Hettermann St. Thomas More

2015 Larry Becker Champaign Central

2014 Matt Mills Mahomet-Seymour

2013 Chris Townsend Monticello

2012 Matt Mills Mahomet-Seymour

2011 Guy Percy GCMS

Colin Likas is the preps coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at clikas@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

Prep Sports Coordinator

Colin Likas is prep sports coordinator at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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