For the girls’ varsity golf team, scattered tee times and new Covid-19 rules did not hinder the simple excitement of having a season and the drive to improve. Although much was different, the silence before each shot and the crisp fall air surrounding the tee boxes will always stay the same.
Head Coach Tom Cieplek applauded his team on how well they stayed focused during the season, despite the difficulties and restrictions that came with playing during a pandemic.
“It was a lot of arriving and leaving on their own with not as much team bonding as we would have liked and have had in the past,” Cieplek said. “This year we didn’t really have things like hanging out or playing music on the bus before our games.”
Cieplek was relieved that the girls nonetheless made friendships and gave extra efforts during practices to establish great overall team chemistry. In what can be such an individual sport, he used different game styles and events to ensure the team aspect was still present during social distancing.
“We switched up our practice format a lot,” Cieplek said. “We met up with GBN to do the Glenbrook Cup. This year we met at Des Plaines Golf Center under the lights for a night round. The girls picked the theme for each day so we did a Western theme and then a holiday theme.”
Senior Captain Olivia DeMattia agreed that despite the restrictions, she still got to be with her team one last time and appreciated how her senior season went.
“You build these relationships and such authentic friendships,” DeMattia said. “People see you at your worst. For example if you shoot poorly on a hole, your mental game is not very strong, but you still have your teammates to lean on and pull you together and those are the relationships I know I will value for life. I wanted to end my fourth year with [these same relationships] and despite the circumstances, we did just that and were there for each other even more.”
Alongside DeMattia, fellow captain and Bradley University commit Maria Perakis concluded an outstanding career at South. Although she could not go to state this year, Perakis has attended three out of her four years at South. Cieplek sees a lot of Maria in her younger sister Effie, who was a key player on varsity this year as a sophomore.
“The big similarity between the sisters is consistency,” Cieplek said. “A bad round for them is a great round for most and I think they have the drive to continue to improve and be the best they can.”
Cieplek was proud of the girls’ hard work that persisted through the weird season. DeMattia and Perakis’ work ethic led the team to second place in conference with numerous individuals making it to regionals, Cieplik said.
“It was definitely weird because we lost a lot of tournaments we would normally play,” said Cieplek. “Instead of that, we had a lot more individual matches. Nonetheless, we had a solid year overall and if this wasn’t a Covid modified season, I think we would have gone down to state for the fourth year in a row as a team.”