New Women’s Golf Coach has eyes on the prize
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Mercer’s new women’s golf coach, Michele Drinkyard, has her sights set on her team competing in the Southern Conference championship.
Drinkyard, who has 12 years of coaching experience, spent eight seasons at Ole Miss after leading the Birmingham Southern program for four years.
The coach last visited Mercer nearly eight years ago, and upon her recent return, she was amazed at how rapidly the campus changed.
“When I walked on campus, it was impressive the changes they made on it,” Drinkyard said. “The commitment from the university, our president and athletic director is incredible.”
Although Mercer is in a different conference than Ole Miss, a Southeastern Conference team, Drinkyard said that her coaching technique is essentially the same.
“As far as mentoring and coaching these young ladies, there’s no difference,” Drinkyard said. The veteran coach said that she has a more “hands-on” coaching style.
“I really like to get to know the players and learn about their strengths and possible areas of improvement,” Drinkyard said.
Even though Drinkyard has only been in her role as head coach for a short period of time, she already has recognized a few of the standout players, one of them being freshman Mary Janiga.
During the team’s first golf tournament, Janiga tied for seventh place, and she’s placed top 50 on the American Junior Golf Association.
“She’s very dedicated and she loves to play, so we’re going to build off of her momentum and keep going,” Drinkyard said of Janiga.
For now, the coach’s immediate team goals include establishing a strong team foundation and breaking their scoring record, which is currently one under par.
Along with team goals, it seems that the head coach has some personal goals of her own, such as reaching out to the community.
“I need to get out into the community and get the community involved in our program to gain some recognition,” Drinkyard said. “The job right now is to take care of business, meet and greet and make a foundation here in our community and keep going.”
One of Drinkyard’s initiatives involves strengthening relationships within the community by establishing a home tournament where the community can get involved. Also, Drinkyand said she wants to put together the Guys and Gals tournament and double it in size.
So far, Drinkyard said that it’s been an easy transition and she looks forward to forging connections. “It’s been an easy connection. And they are very open-minded to change, and they have welcomed it with open arms.”
Drinkyard refuses to give up on her dream of making Mercer women’s golf known on a national stage.
“The quest to bring Mercer women’s golf to the national front is exciting and challenging, and I love a good challenge,” she said.