When other athletes were sidelined due to COVID-19, Bailey Thompson and Erin Williams were hitting the links with their newly minted teammates.
The pair of 2020 Southmont graduates enjoyed a limited freshman fall golf season at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in Terre Haute, and will be back on the course this weekend at the Elks Country Club in Kankakee, Illinois for a 36-hole tournament.
“I was definitely very fortunate to be able to play a little bit in the fall seeing how so many other schools weren’t even having fall seasons,” Thompson said.
The Pomeroys had eight scheduled matches in the fall, but played in just three. Against Oakland City, Thompson fired a 96 and Williams a 100. They also traveled to Michigan to play in a tournament hosted by Grace College, with Williams shooting a 94 and Thompson a 96. The fall season concluded at Oakland City with Williams carding a 93 and Thompson a 98.
“I was certainly appreciative that we were getting the opportunity to play, even if it was only a few matches, because I know that several athletes didn’t even have the chance to practice let alone be in person at school,” Williams said. “I knew that being a collegiate athlete would be different than in high school, but with the pandemic being thrown on top of it, it was definitely an adjustment.”
Thompson and Williams along with their teammates have had to make adjustments due to the pandmeic, but at the end of the day they’re still competing and will play in at least two tournaments this spring.
While the objectivity of the sport stays the same, both former Mounties have noticed changes to the collegiate landscape.
“It was an adjustment moving from high school to college golf,” Thompson said. “In college every match is 18 holes and sometimes on back to back days. The yardage also increases compared to high school.”
At Southmont, Thompson and Williams led a talented 2020 senior class to new heights for Montgomery County golf. In 2019 the Mounties were ranked 20th in the final state coaches poll and finished in the top-10 at the IHSAA Regional after winning the sectional. Williams was a two-time Journal Review Player of the Year, while Thompson won the award her senior season. The duo went from a strong program with two high-quality coaches to an even more enhanced situation at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
“My teammates are awesome and super helpful along with our coaches,” Williams said. “Something that I found to be different from high school was the structure of practices. Usually in high school coach Whalen (Bill) would have specific drills on the green or range for us to do and then we would go out and play a few holes, but now we are in charge of our own practice for the most part in the sense that we work on what we think we need to work on. If I needed to be on the range than I could choose to do that or if I only wanted to play then that was also an option. I’d say a good word to describe the practices are individualized. They are more catered to what you specifically need to work on.”
Following a successful high school career, Thompson and Williams have also entered their college careers as varsity players from the first day on campus. They’ve had a firsthand experience at what many high school athletes dream about when they commit to playing at the next level.
“My coaches are amazing and really care about me and my teammates as individuals and students not just athletes,” Thompson said.
And the best part is, they’re just getting started.
“I’m always looking forward to traveling to different areas to play especially when we get to go out of state because that is something we didn’t do in high school and I’m excited to just get back onto the course and experience a spring season in the cooler weather because I’ve never played competitively in the spring before,” said Williams.