Swinging for the history books

MANCHESTER - Burr and Burton Academy junior Maddi Wollen became the first female golfer in BBA history to earn the right to compete at the New England Interscholastic Golf Championships.

Last week, Wollen shot a 99 in 18-holes at Proctor-Pittsford Golf Course to place 10th out of a field of 70 Division I and Division II female golfers to punch her ticket to the New England Championships on Monday, June 17, at Bretwood Golf Course in Keene, N.H.

"I was surprised. I honestly didn't think that I was really competing that well, especially when there was a lot of really good girls there," said Wollen. "I just didn't anticipate that I was going to move on to the next round at all. It really wasn't in my thought that I was capable of moving on so it was really surprising."

Coach Steve Houghton said he thought Wollen's trip to New England Championships was good for both her and the school.

"I think it's great for the school to have some representative in New Englands. I think it will cause more girls to take a strong interest in golf," said Houghton. "I had 10 of them this year. They're all coming back. They're all young kids and they're very new to the game. going forward there's a few of them that can certainly play and compete and I'm hoping next year to field a full team and take them to the state's."

Wollen is not only the first female golfer in the program's seven year history to qualify for the New England Championships, she is also the only female golfer to compete in DI at the varsity level, according to Houghton.

"I was really excited when I heard that part of it just because I know that BBA has really good sports teams and really good athletics and it was just exciting to know that I had done something athletically [at the] school," Wollen said.

Prior to this year, Wollen - who transferred to BBA this year from Bancroft School in Worcester, Mass. - hadn't played golf competitively as it took place the same time as soccer. When she came to BBA this fall, Wollen said she considered playing lacrosse, but opted instead to join the golf team. One of the challenges Wollen faced this year was playing 18 holes of golf, which she said came during the Patriot Classic. However, she said balancing golf and academics proved to be a significant challenge as well.

"We missed like days at a time of school so it was challenging keeping up with classes and [to] keep doing golf," Wollen said. "Most sports you just miss like a couple hours in the afternoon, but this you miss almost the whole day whenever you have a match."

Another adjustment, Wollen said, was learning to practice on her own much of the time as opposed to collectively with a team due to the small size of the program this year.

Throughout the course of the season, Houghton said that Wollen's long game has developed and become one of her biggest strengths - something he believes will serve her well in the New England Championships and the future as well.

"She just needs to work and play as much golf as she possibly can," said Houghton. "She's got the skills and she's got the desire. So, the more golf she plays, like any of us, the better she'll get at it. As far as the New Englands goes, it will be a big group, all the best golfers from all the New England states so she just needs to not focus on them, but focus on the course and play."

As for Wollen, she plans simply to enjoy the match when she competes on Monday.

"I'm not competing for the scholarship like some of the girls," said Wollen. "I know that in highly populated states like Massachusetts and Connecticut more than half the girls that are going are shooting in the 70s. I'm not going to be shooting in the 70s as much as I'd love to. So, I'm trying to go in a little bit stress free just knowing this is a great honor. I'm really excited to go in and play this new course and I want to take it as a really exciting experience."


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