Goshen girls golf 1999 regional champs

The 1999 Goshen girls golf team is pictured after winning a regional championship. The team would then go on to finish in fifth place at the following weekend’s state tournament, which is still the best mark in program history.

GOSHEN — On June 23, 1972, the Education Amendments of 1972 were signed into law. The most notable part of the legislation were the 37 words of Title IX of the act, which read, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

While sports weren’t directly mentioned in the law, Title IX paved the way for what female sports is today. In Indiana, high school girls volleyball and gymnastics were immediately added as IHSAA sports in the 1972-73 season, while girls track, golf, swimming and diving, basketball, tennis, cross country, softball and soccer all eventually followed suit over the next 25 years.

Now, with it being the 50th anniversary of Title IX, The Goshen News is proud to celebrate some of the best female sports achievements from its coverage area.

This story focuses on the 1999 Goshen girls golf team, who were finally able to break through on the state stage and finish fifth overall at the state tournament.

LAYING THE FOUNDATION

Going into the fall of 1996, four freshmen joined the Goshen girls golf program: Lisa (Robertson) Cook, Julie (Riley) Kilmer, Erin Sample and Megan Thomas. While the latter three were expected to play golf, Robertson had a tough choice of which fall sport she wanted to play.

“Before my freshman year, there was never a question of whether I was going to play a fall sport, it was more about which fall sport was I going to play: volleyball, soccer or golf,” Robertson recalled. “I knew Julie, Megan and a couple of other girls were going to play golf, so I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to play golf.’”

Joining a roster with a really strong senior player in Inga Snyder, the RedHawks were able to advance to the state meet. While they didn’t make the cut after the first round of the state tournament, Snyder placed 10th individually. That team success would soon become an indication of things to come for the Goshen girls golf program.

The glory was short-lived momentarily, however, as the now-RedHawks failed to make it to the state meet in 1997. This only fueled the then-sophomores to come back their junior and senior years and make it to the final weekend of the season.

It was that combined motivation and camaraderie that allowed the program to ultimately succeed, in Kilmer’s eyes.

“As we got older and into high school, it kind of became like a family thing,” Riley said. “Whenever we’d go play, all of our families would be in it, too. Our dads were all big-time golfers, so we would go down prior to tournaments and the dads would play together. We would play a practice round on the course, too, and kind of talk about it afterwards. We kind of clicked more than just in that golf season. It truly became like a family.”

Goshen would make it to the state meet in 1998, failing to make the cut once again. This set the stage for the 1999 campaign, which would be the final year for the Robertson/Riley/Sample/Thomas quartet.

TOP FIVE AT STATE

With a talented roster going into the 1999 season, expectations were high for the RedHawks.

“Just going into our senior year, we knew that we had a strong team from top to bottom,” Robertson said. “There was no one on are team that couldn’t shoot the best score in any of the matches we played. … Just going into that senior year, there were four of us seniors on that team, so we all wanted to make the cut and do well and not just say that we went. There was some motivation there.”

Goshen achieved all of its pre-state goals, winning NLC, sectional and regional championships to advance to the state finals. Back then, the 18 teams that advanced to the state meet all played on the first day of competition, with only the top half from that grouping advancing to the second day.

“The years before, they were kind of nerve-wracking,” Riley said. “And I think just the support of everyone — Doug Schrock volunteered his plane to fly us down to state. The whole town was rooting for us and we felt comfortable. Everyone was playing well at that point, too.”

After having been part of the bottom nine after day one in 1996 and 1998, the RedHawks finally broke through and were in fifth place following the first day of the state meet in 1999. They’d stay in that position at the end of the second day as well, giving them a top-five finish with a total two-day score of 703.

Robertson ended up being the low scorer for Goshen during the two days at state, carding a 171. Sample finished with a 172, Thomas 178, Riley 182 and Jamie Sarbaugh 222.

“It’s fun to play at the state meet, play at a high level and play as a team,” Robertson said. “It didn’t matter to me that I was the lowest scorer on the team that year at state. I just wanted the team to do well, and that’s what was nice about that team: we all wanted each other to do well.”

Now, nearly 25 years later, Riley appreciates the relationships the team formed even more.

“The friendships through that time; like the camaraderie and the family that we grew into … I think that is something I will always remember,” Riley said. “Even now, as I have kids, I hope that they get into sports and they have that feeling of family and camaraderie with their sports teams as well.”

Note: this story has been updated to reflect a change in spelling. Lisa's last name was "Robertson." It was incorrectly spelled as "Robinson" initially. The Goshen News apologizes for this error.

Austin Hough can be reached at austin.hough@goshennews.com or at 574-538-2360. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.

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