Women’s golf is set to tee off a new season this weekend at the Redbird Invitational at Weibring Golf Club in Normal.
The tournament is a 14-team meet that should become a competitive weekend for the Huskies. Coach Kim Kester, entering her second season at the helm of the team, feels the girls are ready to get out and compete.
“We have a pretty good lineup we are taking to Illinois State,” Kester said. “This will mark mine along with my team’s first time taking part at this course, which is a pretty big one from what I hear. We are excited to get out there and get the season started.”
The team lost its No. 1 golfer from last season, Allie Parthie, to graduation.
Parthie was a four-time All-American Scholar Team honoree who carried a 3.81 grade point average while majoring in biology. Parthie was the Huskies’ top golfer over the course of last season, finishing the year with a 79.5 average and competing in all 10 events for NIU in 2012-13.
“She was ... our leader. She was awesome,” said senior Jenny Niemiec. “She was a great player, very talented, overall great person and role model for all of us.”
Entering her second season as head coach, Kester said things seem to be a little easier for her and the players this time around.
“This season we seem to be more comfortable with each other because I have been here a year,” Kester said. “Last season I came in two weeks prior to the season starting, and kind of organized camp last minute for a little bit there, but I would definitely say we are more relaxed. Of course there are still things we need to touch on and improve upon, and that is what we are working to do.”
Ellett, who was a regular part of NIU’s top five golfers last year, also feels things seem to be going smoother in year two under Kester.
“We all seem to have a better relationship this year,” Ellett said. “You know, last year she came in, she did not recruit us, but we made it work. This year has improved, and I feel so far we have an even stronger chemistry as players with coach Kester.”
Kester said it is nice having a competitive meet in Illinois compared to last season when the team started the season in Wisconsin.
“The caliber of teams we are going to see at ISU is definitely tougher than what we opened up with last year, which is a great way to really test our team early,” Kester said. “We also love how it is driving distance for some of the families to come support, so we could also use that to our advantage as well.”
The practice round for the Redbird Invitational will be held Saturday and will be followed by the tournament rounds, which start Sunday and end Monday.
Kester is looking for some positive results in the team’s first meet.
“We think that a top five finish in a 14-team meet to open the year is a pretty good number for us to look at,” Kester said. “Hopefully we can be in contention to win it that last round.”