After being selected to become the first Valparaiso University athletic team to host a Missouri Valley Conference Championship and naming a new head coach, there’s no shortage of buzz surrounding the Valpo women’s golf program entering the 2018-2019 season.
The campaign gets underway this weekend, when head coach Jill McCoy makes her collegiate coaching debut as Valpo participates in the Golfweek Program Challenge, which will begin on Sunday and run through Tuesday in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“The transition has been very smooth since I took over the program,” McCoy said. “The players seem highly motivated and extremely happy to be back on campus. Everyone has been working very hard and they have been very positive about the new practice routines that we’ve implemented. I’m a little nervous going into my first tournament, but I’m excited at the same time. Our players have been performing well, and I’m hopeful that we will have a good first experience.”
The meet kicks off a fall slate that also features a chance to compete at home as Valpo will host the Missouri Valley Conference Fall Preview at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton on Oct. 15-16. That will serve as a precursor to the MVC Championship, which will take place April 14-16 at Sand Creek – the first MVC Championship event hosted by Valpo in any sport.
“That comes with a lot of pressure,” McCoy said. “At the same time, we’re very excited about it. With my background as a professional, hosting and running the tournament is not the scary part. I have a lot of experience in running tournaments that should be beneficial. Everyone on our team will be looking forward to it and we will be putting in extra effort to make it a good showing.”
The Valpo roster is comprised of seniors Kylie Shoemake (Schererville, Ind. / Lake Central) and Madison McCreary (Batesville, Ind. / Batesville), juniors Tiffany Curtis (Crown Point, Ind. / Crown Point) and Kayla Krueger (Spring Lake, Mich. / Spring Lake), sophomores Grace McMinn (Omaha, Neb. / Marian) and Shelby Schier (Greenwood, Ind. / Center Grove) and freshmen Payton Hodson (Middleton, Wis. / Middleton) and Morgan Kier (Brownsburg, Ind. / Brownsburg).
Krueger is the team’s leading returner in terms of scoring average and enters her junior season with a career scoring average that ranks sixth in program history. The highlight of her season came in the first round of the MVC Championship on April 15, when she became the first player in program history to be tied for first after one round of the conference championship.
Curtis has played well in qualifying, while Hodson had a strong first qualifying round.
“Everyone has been consistent,” McCoy said. “We have a lot of really strong team camaraderie. Our players are working well together; they seem like a great group. Everyone is excited to get started.”