BERLIN - Early on in the New Britain girls golf teamâ€™s season, the Hurricanes realized their spring would be about much more than hitting fairways and avoiding bunkers.
Head coach Rich Carlson, who has led New Britain for almost two decades, began treatment for his battle with cancer back in February and has been a noticeable absence on the course. Carlson, who has largely impacted the lives of everyone around New Britain golf, has left a void the Hurricanes needed time to fill, or at least figure out how to cope with it.
â€śSometimes itâ€™s tough,â€ť Morgan Giantonio said. â€śItâ€™s definitely a factor.â€ť
New Britain is still searching for its first win of the season, but of course, the season has become more about making the team whole again rather than overall record. The only win that matters is Carlsonâ€™s in his battle with a scary illness that has shaken his team, but a familiar presence in assistant coach Nina Foran, who has stepped up in the head coaching role since the first match of the season, which was the first Carlson had missed in 15 years.
â€śI think since I played for Carlson and I was here last year a little bit, [the players] had a familiar face to go to,â€ť said Foran, a former Hurricane that played for Carlson nearly a decade ago. â€śAt least I hope so.â€ť
Foranâ€™s hopes are answered by the Hurricanes she has been trusted to lead. The transition may have been rough, but Foran has kept the team together through a difficult period.
â€śWe had to take a week or so to get ourselves together with coach not being here,â€ť Liya Seccente said. â€śIt was rough in the beginning, but now weâ€™re all really close and itâ€™s really amazing. Of course we miss coach, but itâ€™s been a really good season.â€ť
And while it was a challenge for Seccente and New Britain to adjust, there was the same necessary period for Foran, who suddenly found herself needed to lead a team which needed direction on more than just the golf course.
â€śA lot of it was transitioning into a new role,â€ť Foran said. â€śI was the assistant last year, so I worked a lot with the newer girls, but I didnâ€™t really work with the [number] one and two golfers at all. I was getting reacquainted with them. Now weâ€™re getting into the nitty-gritty and trying to make the little tweaks that each player needs.â€ť
Foran admits she has a different coaching style than Carlson, but finds comfort in knowing that Carlson makes sure to maintain his presence from afar as he continues his treatment.
â€śHeâ€™s doing well. Heâ€™s texting me and yelling at me and giving commands,â€ť Foran laughed. â€śHeâ€™s still very much a part of the team. The girls ask me to text him their scores when they have a good match. Heâ€™s still very much their coach.â€ť
The Hurricanes may not be able to see Carlson as they prepare for a drive or a putt, but they play every hole as if heâ€™s there, giving out his usual commands to keep his team focused.
â€śWeâ€™re just doing our best for him,â€ť Kendra Levesque said. â€śWe want to make sure heâ€™s proud of us.â€ť