Coach Ken Miller, Libby Peachey, Claire Dworsky, Hannah Kopac, Carly Donnell, and Coach Corey Hunter at Centre Hills Country Club. Photo taken by Julie Donnell on Sept 14.
Coach Ken Miller, Libby Peachey, Claire Dworsky, Hannah Kopac, Carly Donnell, and Coach Corey Hunter at Centre Hills Country Club. Photo taken by Julie Donnell on Sept 14.
Julie Donnell

Group of 4 Gone Par

One might usually correlate golf with business deals or professional meetings, however the State High Girls Golf team only picture self-improvement, passion, and victory when holding a club in their hands. 

Hannah Kopac, Carley Donnell, Claire Dworsky, and Libby Peachey are the members of the 2023-2034 girls golf team. Even though they are a small team of four, the girls have been securing impressive positions on the leaderboard. 

Kopac, a senior at State High, has been golfing for roughly 12 years. She has mostly maintained a Top 10 position in the charts at all matches and tournaments. At the 2023 Happy Valley Invitational located at the Penn State Golf Courses, Kopac’s total gross was 13 above par, which led her to secure 8th place out of the 53 girls that competed in that category. 

“I went into the round with one goal in mind — do the best you can. I am so happy that I placed Top Ten but I didn’t go into that round with the goal to place where I did,” Kopac said. 

Along with the Happy Valley Invitational, Kopac came in 2nd at the Chambersburg match, 7th at the State College Match,  4th at the Northern York Girls Match, 14th at the Central Dauphin Match.

“During the competition, I try to stay calm and think through every shot. I try to focus on my course management to minimize my total strokes taken,” Kopac said. 

Kopac also commends the coaches of the girl’s golf team for their tremendous support and skillful coaching.

“Coach Miller and Coach Hunter will always push you to do your very best and try new things. During practice, they will help you work on things individual to you and your struggles out on the course,” Kopac said. 

Along with teaching technique and form, Head Coach Ken Miller and Assistant Coach Corey Hunter have taught the girls about the mental game of golf.

“I’ve been working on my mindset throughout this year and focusing on the next shot as if it were the first shot of the day. My coach calls it the ‘goldfish mindset’, where once you hit a shot there is nothing you can do about where it goes and you just need to focus on the next one,” Kopac said. 

Kopac pushes herself towards achieving more and getting better. She mentioned how golf is a heavily underestimated sport that people misunderstand as something extremely simple. However, the work and technique that goes behind perfecting a shot is often overlooked. 

“The strive to reach a personal best is what gets me to work so hard to get better. Once you reach your goal, you immediately make a new one and work till you reach that; It’s a never-ending cycle,” Kopac said. 

Carley Donnell, a senior at State High, first started playing golf this season and has already made her place high up in the charts. Donnell ranked 18 out of 53 at the Happy Valley Invitational — her first ever major golf event. 

Donnell secured 10th at the Chambersburg match, 13th at the State College Match, 8th at the Mechanicsburg match, 5th at the Northern Girl Yorks match, and 9th at the Central Dauphin match.

In matches and tournaments, all coaches are simply coaches. They encourage and advise every golfer competing. Same for the players, each group playing a hole consists of three to four golfers of different schools. 

“The whole culture and vibe of golf, with players and coaches, is that they all want to help and they’re all there for each other. If someone needs help with the rules any coach will come and help you, doesn’t matter where they’re from,” Donnell said. 

Along with the community, Donnell also mentioned other traditions she loves at State High Golf. 

“I love the van rides [to the matches] and back. We always stop at Sheetz and get food, that’s like a signature of ours,”  Donnell said. 

Donnell is also a notable member of the girl’s basketball team. She states the difference between golf and basketball. 

“Golf is very about techniques and you have to be perfect and the exercise is a lot harder than people think. Walking 18 holes is very hard on your feet and on your legs. Honestly, I feel more tired after a match than a basketball game,” Donnell said. 

Along with the physical struggles of golf, there is a lot one has to be mentally prepared for before entering a round. 

“Your mental game is definitely the most difficult part of the game. If you have a bad third hole, there’s 15 more to go. So you need to have that positive attitude and keep picking yourself up,” Claire Dworsky, a junior at State High, said.

Dworsky started playing golf when her father would take her out to the range. 

“He is kinda my golf coach, so he helps with a lot of stuff, helps me figure out my swing, and everything on how I can improve my game,” Dworsky said. Her father became her inspiration to continue playing golf.

A huge pillar of support was given by both coaches for Dworsky. 

“[The coaches] are very supportive of us […] this one time last year I had one of the coaches stick with me pretty much the entire round, and that was one of my best rounds that I played. I felt really supported, he kept cheering me on,” Dworsky said. 

A round consists of 18 holes, and the golfers are encouraged to look at every hole as a fresh start and not be discouraged by their performance of previous holes. 

“Every hole is a different experience. If you double par on one hole it’s okay, you can forget about it and you can restart in the next one and try to redeem yourself,” said Dworsky. 

“Golf’s a lot of perseverance […]  you can’t just give up, you have 18 holes to turn it around and make something better out of it. And even if you don’t, use that as a learning experience,” Libby Peachey, a sophomore at State High and the youngest on the golf team, said. 

Peachey also spoke about how underestimated and overlooked the sport is. She mentioned how it is so much more than just hitting a ball with a stick. 

“You have to be able to hit the ball at the right time and get your swing correct so that you’re hitting the correct part of the ball. If you have one thing that’s wrong like, you move your arms one way or the other, or, you open and close your club face then your ball is going like in the woods or in the water,” Peachey said. 

Aspects of golf have not only taught these golfers lessons in the athletic world, but also in the real world.

“I feel like I have definitely applied that to other things in my life. It’s not necessarily that you have to lose the whole match just because you have a bad hole. And that’s the same thing in life. Just because you have a bad day doesn’t mean that you have to throw away your whole life,” Peachey said. 

All four  players encouraged girls at State High who might even have the slightest interest to join the State High Girls Golf Team. Starting from fun van rides, to meaningful connections, to a loving community, golf is a sense of comfort to all of these girls. 

“If you’re looking for something to take up in your free time, it’s very relaxing. It can be something that’s just an outlet for you,” Peachey stated.

Editor’s note: Donnell is a member of the Lions’ Digest staff.

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    Audrey PittsleySep 20, 2023 at 9:56 PM

    Good luck Claire and to your team on the rest of your season!!