HARRISONBURG, Va. -- EMU's new athletic program gets its official start this weekend when the men's golf team tees off Sunday at the Tom Kinder Memorial, hosted by Bridgewater at Lakeview Golf Course in Harrisonburg.
Head Coach Wendell Eberly said his men are ready to get out on the course.
"The mood has been one of excitement and of having fun," Eberly said. "They all are working hard on their game and want to practice and play as much as possible. It has been fun, exciting, and challenging. The support from the athletic department has been great."
Nine men and two women are already on the roster. With golf officially being a spring sport, Eberly hopes to add a few more women to the team during the year. The men and women will play at separate events, with each team planning to participate in two events during the fall.
Both ODAC Championships will be April 21-23 at the Bay Creek Resort & Club in Cape Charles, VA.
Eberly thinks he has quality players on his teams and said all of them have a lot of potential. He said the backbone of the team starts from his oldest student-athletes.
"Jonathan Leaman (Broadway, VA/Broadway) and Andre Swartzentruber (Keezletown, VA/Spotswood) are seniors and are the captains of the team," he said. "They both are excellent golfers and will provide the stability for the team."
The coach pointed out that his men have a nice mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen.
"Two freshmen who will contribute much to the team are Josh Alderfer (Faber, VA/Nelson County) and Caleb Schlabach (Millersburg, OH/Hiland)," said Eberly. "Both played number one for their high school teams. Junior Joel Murray (Hesston, KS/Hesston) has been away from competitive golf for a couple of years, but has a nice game. Also, John Toney (Buckingham, VA/Buckingham County) and Michael Wade (Waynesboro, VA/Fort Defiance) both played baseball the past couple of years, but played high school golf. They both show a lot of potential and are improving every day as they get back to playing golf on a regular schedule."
Also on the men's squad are sophomore Jared Christophel (Goshen, IN/Bethany Christian) and senior Owen Longacre (Telford, PA/Christopher Dock).
On the women's side, EMU has two golfers.
"Freshman Brittany McDonaldson (Harrisonburg, VA/Harrisonburg) is an excellent golfer and should do well," said Eberly. "She works hard on her game and enjoys playing as much as possible. Amber Davis (Amelia, VA/Amelia County) is a senior and has not played competitive golf for a number of years, but she is working hard on her game."
Most tournaments are set up with five-person teams, with the top four cards forming the team score. Some tourneys will allow schools to enter the rest of their roster as individuals who cannot affect the team score.
Even with the individual nature of the sport, Eberly said his golfers are developing a good camaraderie.
"You can already see that in practice with everyone playing with different teammates during our nine-hole matches," he said. "Everyone is very supportive of each other. We still have a ways to go, but hopefully the tournament play and more practice time together will help."
Although there are no official ODAC events throughout the season, the Royals can expect to see a number of conference teams at their tournaments. EMU's new golfers are excited to see where they stand in the league.
"It is hard to say at this time (what our expectations are), but we would like to be competitive with most of the teams," said Eberly. "We realize that the top teams in the ODAC are really good. We want to improve as the season goes along. The main thing is to improve from the beginning of the year until the end."
While the men open this Sunday and Monday, the women's team has another week to prepare for a one-day tourney hosted by Radford in Draper, VA, on Sunday, Sept. 23.