BATTLE CREEK – Many teams see themselves as a family.
The Harper Creek girls golf team has taken that sentiment to a new level.
There are 12 members of the Beaver girls golf team and the group has a definite family atmosphere, mostly because half of them are related.
There are three sets of sisters among the Harper Creek squad, which creates a unique experience.
“We all get along very well as a team. I think that has to do, somewhat, because a lot of us our sisters,” said Harper Creek senior Rachel Kyger. “But, really, it feels like we are all sisters on this team. We are all here for each other as a family, whether we are actually sisters or not.”
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Rachel Kyger and her twin sister Celia Kyger are among the senior leaders for the Beavers. Senior Mallory Flanders is a returning varsity golfer with her sister Audrey joining the team this year as a freshman. And, junior Arabella Stanley is back on the varsity with her younger sister Braylee on the roster as a freshman as well.
Harper Creek girls golf coach Amanda Zima said there are certain advantages to having sisters on the team.
“It creates that family feeling on the team,” Zima said. “They are already a tight-knit team, with it being just 12 of them, but the sisters situation creates that family atmosphere as well.
“And it helps us a lot as coaches, because the older ones can guide their sisters as they transition to high school golf.”
Zima also was excited to see the sister combination on this year’s team, because she knows that brings some advantages that you will see on the golf course.
“With siblings, you know they are getting that experience outside of high school golf,” Zima said. “A lot of sports, when you are off, you are off, you aren’t thinking about playing that sport. But in this family dynamic, these girls are spending time on the course, even in the off season, because it is obviously something that happens in their family. It is part of their family dynamic to play golf.”
Arabella has seen that played out first hand.
“My dad has three girls, and it’s just us three, so he has us all out playing together all the time,” said Arabella, adding a younger future Harper Creek golfer to the mix, who is currently in sixth grade. “It’s fun to be able to golf together as a family. And that makes it fun out here to have my sister on the team now.”
The group has raced out to a nice start this season and is sitting in first place in the Interstate 8 Conference, after finishing first last week at a league jamboree with a team score of 359. In that outing, every single one of the competitors in the varsity match reached their personal best for the season with Mallory Flanders shooting the low round for the Beavers at 84, followed by Arabella Stanley at 89, Rachel Kyger and 90 and Celia Kyger at 96.
Mallory Flanders has been the early leader for the team so far, with an average of 47 for nine holes with Rachel Kyger and Arabella Stanley each close behind at 48.
The low scores have come from some good internal competition, according to Mallory.
“I think having a sister on the team helps. It adds a sense of competition that makes us better,” Mallory said. “My sister and I have practiced together basically every single day since the beginning of June. We are super competitive when we play. I’m older, so I always feel like I have to win. And, when sometimes that doesn’t happen, and I have a bad day, there is an urgency to work twice as hard to get better going forward.”
And there’s an added bonus to have two sisters on the same team, beyond the low scores and the early success the Harper Creek girls golf team has seen.
“Having my sister on the team is much more convenient for my mom, too… She doesn’t have to drive us both all over the place all the time,” Mallory added with a laugh.
Contact Bill Broderick at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on X/Twitter @billbroderick.
This article originally appeared on Battle Creek Enquirer: Harper Creek girls golf team driven by three sets of sisters