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Boys Golf: McConnell helped save, grow Sharks team
The reason Malibu High School still has a golf team has a lot to do with Cindy McConnell — as does its success.
Three years ago, the team was without a coach and on the brink of extinction. Since then, McConnell has used her experience to transform the Sharks from nearly non-existent to defending league champions.
But, she almost didn’t do it.
After learning the boys team would fold without a coach and knowing her background as a former professional golfer, parents tried to coax McConnell into taking over the program. She was apprehensive at first, but once her son Josh and his friend Quincy Allen asked, she agreed to take the reins.
“I think it’s a pretty natural transition; it’s nice to see young people take up the game,” McConnell said. “It’s a great game that you can play for your entire life. ... I just hope from my coaching that these kids will have the game as part of their [lives]. That’s kind of my goal from it.”
McConnell was around the same age as her golfers when she took up the sport. She played junior golf when she was about 13 years old with her family, but didn’t play in high school, opting for “team sports” instead.
After high school, the Malibu native played for UCLA’s women’s team. From there, McConnell played top-level amateur golf in the renowned Curtis Cup where she represented the U.S. and was asked to on the Women’s World Amateur Team in 1988.
She turned pro and spent the next four years playing tours throughout Europe and Asia. McConnell even qualified for one year on the LPGA tour.
“After high school I really got serious about it,” she said. “I kind of got bit by the golf bug and just loved playing golf. That’s kind of how it all started.”
Her passion for golf has been passed on to her players, and that’s evident in the way they have progressed.
The Sharks won the Frontier League last season, bumping them up to the highly competitive Tri-Valley League this season. They got to a strong start, finishing second in the first league meet March 10 behind perennial powerhouse St. Bonaventure.
Senior Daniel Haines was diagnosed with severe tendonitis prior to the second league match March 16, causing him to miss competition. That combined with the team’s No. 1 golfer, Allen, battling illness hurt Malibu and caused the team to finish fourth out of the five teams. But despite the obstacles, McConnell is still optimistic for the remainder of the season.
The team also has an assistant coach this year, Doo Kang, whose brother plays at Pepperdine University. With all the talent and experience on this squad from both the coaches and players, McConnell is confident in its ability to go far.
“Our goal is to win the league; I think it’s a lofty goal this year because we moved up a division. ... With that comes better competition from the other schools,” McConnell said. “I think we have a really good chance if everyone plays solidly.”
The Sharks will be back on the course at 1 p.m. April 27 to take on its league opponents in their third meeting of the year at Los Olivas Links in Ventura.