Longtime Lutheran North girls golf coach assisting successor

By: Jason Carmel Davis | C&G Newspapers | Published August 30, 2018

 New Macomb Lutheran North girls golf coach Mary Miller, right, talks with now former coach Lori Gill during an Aug. 22 practice. Gill is mentoring Miller this season  to make for a smooth transition. Gill recently stepped down after 20 years with the program.

New Macomb Lutheran North girls golf coach Mary Miller, right, talks with now former coach Lori Gill during an Aug. 22 practice. Gill is mentoring Miller this season to make for a smooth transition. Gill recently stepped down after 20 years with the program.

Photo by Donna Agusti

 Lutheran North senior Kaity Rittner lines up a  shot during practice. The Mustangs this season will  go for their third straight state title. Last season,  Lutheran North won the Division 3 crown after  taking the D-4 championship in 2016.

Lutheran North senior Kaity Rittner lines up a shot during practice. The Mustangs this season will go for their third straight state title. Last season, Lutheran North won the Division 3 crown after taking the D-4 championship in 2016.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — In taking over as the new Macomb Lutheran North girls golf coach, Mary Miller inherited a team that has its sights set on claiming a third straight state championship.

That could be a daunting task, but Miller will have help in the form of former Mustangs golf coach Lori Gill, who recently stepped down after 20 years with the program.

Gill leaves with a strong résumé. The Mustangs won the program’s first state title in 2016, claiming the Division 4 crown. Last year, North captured the D-3 championship. The team finished as D-4 runner-up in 2015.

The Mustangs under Gill won five regional titles and a Catholic High School League championship in 2017. This season, the Mustangs will compete in the D-4 postseason.

“I have gotten great joy from working with such talented, bright and sincerely great kids,” Gill said. “These students, which I still see many of them today, have given me so many wonderful memories — memories that I really cherish. I have gotten to work with the best of the best, so now that I have nine grandchildren, I am busy preparing the next generation of high school golfers.”

Miller’s coaching experience comes from tennis, as she led the team at Warren’s St. Anne High some time ago. Miller has never coached golf.

“It’s quite different coaching golf from tennis. There’s so much to learn,” Miller said. “I’m so glad (Gill) agreed to be with me this first year to make sure I make the correct decisions for the team.”

Miller and Gill play in a travel golf league. In 2017, Gill informed Miller of her decision to retire and asked if she would be interested in taking over. Miller said she had to think about the offer.

“I knew I’d have big shoes to fill,” Miller said. “I wondered to myself if I was the right individual for the position since I’d never coached golf before. (Gill) seemed to think I was, since I love the game and know the basic rules.”

After a few months of pondering, Miller accepted the offer, with Gill agreeing to assist her this season.

Gill said she’s guiding Miller this season so the transition goes well for the new coach, the team and the school. Gill said things have gone well thus far.

“I think getting (Miller) on board was a very good decision,” she said.

The move comes with the Mustangs looking to win another state title. The team has three players back from last year’s title-winning squad: Kaity Rittner, Sarah Hohensee and Julia Zauel.

All three of the returning players are strong off the tee, Miller said. Chipping and putting are areas the team will have to improve in if it wants a chance at a third straight state title. Playing a tough schedule could help whip the team into shape before regionals. Lutheran North will face a number of D-1 and D-2 teams in various tournaments this season.

“If the girls practice as hard as they’ve been doing so far and get their scores down, and keep their confidence up, we should do very well,” Miller said.

Gill thinks the team will do well under Miller’s guidance.

“It has taken me 20 years to build up a state championship program,” Gill said. “A program that is recognized and respected throughout the state. My biggest fear was that the program would wane. Those fears have been laid to rest by having Coach Miller take over. It’s all good.”

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