An Open Letter to the Golf Team, from Coach Slonaker

Ryan Slonaker '24, golf coach Chris Slonaker, Meade Slonaker '20. Photo by Jack Zhao '20
Ryan Slonaker '24, golf coach Chris Slonaker, Meade Slonaker '20. Photo by Jack Zhao '20

Golf Coach Chris Slonaker shared the following letter with the varsity golf team on Monday, May 11. The boys were well positioned to make a run as both conference and state championships this spring, according to Andrew Gascho, athletic director. In addition, Meade Slonaker ’20, was looking to repeat as individual champion in the VIC as well as VISAA. See Daily News-Record coverage. Coach Slonaker is father of Meade ’20 and Ryan ’24, both cornerstones of the EMS golf program.

Dear team:

Well…… Would we have brought the trophy home today?

Williamsburg. Partly sunny. 64 degrees. 9 mph breeze. After 70 days of the golf season and our night in the Williamsburg condo, we would be trying to earn the first ever VISAA state title for EMHS today.

I am sad for us. Sad that we did not get the opportunity. Sad that Meade’s high school golf career ended this way. Sad that it feels that we have been building our golf program for this moment and not be able to experience it.

But wait…. I’m a glass-half-full person. Bogeys are OK because there are birdie holes ahead. Did you know that in the spring of 2013 that EMHS did not field a golf team because there were only 2 golfers in the school? Then, in 2014 we recruited 4 basketball players to play and had 5 players to form a team. 2015 (5 players), 2016 (6), 2017 (7), 2018 (7), 2019 (7), 2020 (8). We are a part of building a golf program.

I am choosing to think of a possible state championship not as the top of the mountain but instead as a victory along the path going up. Maybe that path holds VIC and VISAA championships, maybe not, but I hope that the path holds more great kids like our 8 this year enjoying golf, their teammates and learning a lifetime sport.

So guys, let’s stay on the path. Golf is like that…. you work on things, try things, and get a little bit better each time out. It is a process. Keep playing. Keep practicing. When summer tournaments get going, go play in some. Take a lesson. Let me know how I can help you with advice on a part of the game, or clubs, or tournaments etc. I’d love to connect with you guys over the summer golf season.

And…. remember the three skills from our discussion with Dr. Bob Harmison (director of sport psychology at James Madison University and EMS dad):
1. Focus on the good or better shots
2. Think about your shot. Then play your shot
3. Whether it is a good or poor shot, how do you respond?

Coach Slonaker

A wrap up of Meade Slonker’s high school golfing accomplishments:

8th grade – 1st team all conference, 11th place at state tournament
9th grade – 1st team all conference, 2nd place at state tournament, 1st team all-state, team 3rd in state
10th – 1st team all conference, 3rd at VIC, 2nd place at state tournament, 1st team all state, team state runner-up
11th – 1st team all conference, VIC Champion, Individual season VISAA DIII POY, 1st place in Dlll state tournament, 1st team all-state, Team 3rd in state, Daily News-Record golfer of the year

Check out some more photos from this story

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