One week ago, you might have mistaken the Marathon High School golf team for a group of friends playing a round after school. With their flashy new gear, their team identity is unmistakable.
Back in action as a varsity sport for its third season, the team is coached by 2021 Best of Marathon Educator of the Year Mary “MP” Coleman-Sayer. Marathon fielded a competitive golf team in years past, but interest in the sport dissipated until the group re-formed as a club five years ago. When a few students expressed interest in the sport to Coleman-Sayer, she approached the high school athletics department with the intent to restart the sport. The group began as a club supervised by Coleman-Sayer, practicing and playing a few matches while interest built. Two years later, the team’s core was big enough to merit re-establishment as a varsity sport under coach Tyler Wright.
“You just want the interest to be there,” said Coleman-Sayer, whose two sons are on the current roster. “It was nice, because when Tyler was the coach, I could just go and watch as a parent.” The group quickly grew from the initial handful of players to its current roster of 14 golfers, and according to Coleman-Sayer, the growth in community support has matched the expansion of the team. “We’ve gotten a lot of outside involvement; there’s a vested interest in trying to get youth golf back into Marathon. (Florida Keys Country Club golf operations director) Mike Bell has been great, he’s been a part of it since the varsity sport came back. The kids use this facility, and we use Key Colony Beach on Wednesdays. Key Colony has said, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s get golf back going.’ We couldn’t ask for more support than what we’re getting.”
The team has received significant support from Stan Haines as well as Chris Gratton and Josh Mothner. Known for the charity tournaments he organizes at the country club, Haines felt the need to step in and support the students playing the game he calls “one of the last bastions of sports integrity.” Seeing a need for equipment after the team’s first match against Key West, he said, “If you play a varsity sport, you have two jobs: play your sport, and get all As and Bs. (The kids) shouldn’t have to worry about how it’s all paid for.” In addition to lending his time and talent to the team, Haines has organized a fundraising group and looks to put on the inaugural Dolphin Club Scramble, a low-stress best-ball tournament, on Saturday, Oct. 23. The team is already handsomely outfitted with brand new gear including golf bags, shirts and hats, among other items. In the future, Haines aims to provide a scholarship to graduating seniors on the team.
As the club moves forward, both Haines and Coleman-Sayer look to develop interest in a lifelong sport that promotes integrity in each individual player. “This teaches more than just being able to drive, chip and putt. This is about manners, etiquette and appropriate socialization,” said Coleman-Sayer. By her estimation, the team bought in from the start. “They’re focused, and they want to learn how to get better. Kids who’ve never played before are all of a sudden dropping strokes from their game. They’re feeling great about themselves, building confidence and self esteem. I’m just a facilitator.”
For more information or to register for the limited remaining slots in the Dolphin Club Scramble, contact Haines at 305-434-2433.