Setting the Table: 2010 was the first season for Owls' golf coach Dan Hotham. Hotham set the bar pretty high as his team finished the season as the last champions of the NAIA's Sunrise Conference. (The conference disbanded upon completion of the 2010-2011 season). Hotham was named the Sunrise Conference Coach of the Year. Mike Balmer came up from New Smyrna Beach, FL and performed well enough to be named the Sunrise Conference Rookie and Player of the Year. In all, four Owl golfers were named to the All-Conference team: Balmer, Ellis Pelletier (Fr./Caribou, ME), Paul Rucci (Sr./Millinocket, ME), and Randy Whitmore (So./Milford, ME).
In case you missed it: The 2011 team has taken the success of the 2010 squad and built upon it. Of the seven events the team has participated, they have FOUR, 1st-place finishes, including a season opening win at the UMPI Invitational played at the Presque Isle Country Club. They have also won at the Northern Maine Community College Invitational, the Maine Maritime Academy Invite, and this past weekend at the Eastern Maine Community College Invite.
Coach Hotham on his team's play thus far: "(It has been) Excellent. With only one returning player and a number of first-year students, I didn't expect that we would have the success we have had this season."
Impact players:Reynold Brown ((Fr./Essex, CT) has come onto the scene and wasted no time teaming with Balmer to create a lethal 1-2 punch for the Owls. Brown has medaled (awarded to the best individual score) 4 times already this season. He was also named the USCAA Golfer of the Week in early September. There has been no sophomore slump forBalmer (So./New Smyrna Beach, FL) either. He was a medalist at the EMCC Invitational and has consistently been in the upper 70's all season.
Coach Hotham on the biggest difference between this year's team and last year's squad: "Attitude. Last year some of the upperclassmen on the team did not get upset at a poor performance or practice diligently to improve. These guys do get upset when they do not perform and work very hard at improving their game."
On the horizon: Only one meet remains in the 2011 season. UMPI will be at the University of Maine-Machias Invitational at the Castine Country Club this Tuesday, October 4th. As UMPI continues its transition from NAIA to dual membership in the NCAA Division III and the USCAA, there unfortunately will not be a chance to participate in any post-season play this season. However with only freshmen and sophomores on the 8-player roster, post-season play will definitely be on the radar in 2012.
Coach Hotham on looking ahead: "Next year hopefully we will be a part of a conference and have a conference championship to play in and be able to send some players to the USCAA National Championship."