By KEVIN HARRIS
Last year as a senior on the Henryville High School boys’ golf team, Evan Embry provided a lot of guidance to his teammates as he qualified for his only IHSAA State Finals.
Even though Embry has graduated from HHS, he is still giving advice to the Hornet golfers.
Embry, who is attending Indiana University Southeast this semester, is now a volunteer assistant coach at Henryville. Despite not playing the links this spring as a member of the Hornets, Embry has enjoyed being around his former teammates.
“I definitely miss playing, but it has been a good experience helping the guys out,” Embry said.
Current Henryville senior Cameron Furnish says having Embry back as an assistant has been beneficial for the entire team.
“He has come back and coached us some, which is really cool,” Furnish said. “He has helped the people that are back this year that knew him before. They saw what he can do and they obviously listen to him. He helps out a whole lot.”
Whether Embry is playing or coaching, Hornet senior Mitchell Fields says Embry’s message remains the same to the Henryville players.
“He tells us to stay positive. He’s very uplifting,” Fields said. “He was always positive [as a player] and never let his emotions show.”
During his brief stint as an assistant, Embry has been trying to encourage the Hornets to work hard on their games and overachieve on the course.
“The main thing I tell them is they can be as good as they want to be. If you’re going to be just average at golf, you won’t be successful,” Embry said.
Embry is one of the most accomplished golfers in Henryville history. He is the second Hornet to ever play in the state finals, with the first being Konrad Guernsey in 1999.
Embry holds the school record for the lowest nine-hole score at 30. He made the All-Southern Athletic Conference team in each of his four seasons at Henryville. In fact, he was the medalist at the SAC meet during all four years of his prep career.
Henryville coach Robin Embry, Evan’s uncle, says his nephew is a major role model for his current players.
“There is no doubt that he’s one of the best that we’ve had,” Robin Embry said. “They look up to him not only in how he scored, but how he conducted himself. That’s a bonus for not only the older kids, but the younger kids as well.”
The Hornets have had three meets this season, and so far they have done well without Embry in the lineup.
Henryville has won all three meets — all of which were nine-hole triangular meets — with an average team score of 186.7.
The Hornets have benefited from the addition of five freshmen, especially Luke Davidson. The rookie has earned medalist honors in each of the three meets. Davidson fired 39s in the first two meets of the season and shared medalist honors with Fields with a 44 in last Wednesday’s meet at Champions Pointe Golf Club in Memphis, the Hornets’ home course.
“Our best freshman has posted a couple of sub-40 rounds in less than ideal conditions, and that’s been a big boost,” said Robin Embry, who also has sophomores Bailey Reister and Charlie LeFevere on his roster. “Will his score be 10 strokes lower in four years from a 39? I doubt it. But I think his consistency will get better.”
The other freshmen on the team are Mason Edwards, Kody Freitus, Cole Grimm and Cole Hairston.
“It‘s a good group,” Robin Embry said about his freshmen. “It’s one of the best classes from a numbers and a talent standpoint.”
Furnish says the freshmen have made a big impact during the 2013 season.
“I think our season has been going pretty good,” Furnish said. “Our freshmen that we’ve got this year have been pulling through super strong. They’ve been pulling in really low scores for us. They’ve actually helped us out a lot.”
If there is one area the Hornets have been working on a lot lately, it is their short game. Fields says chipping and putting are points of emphasis in practice.
“We’re starting to show improvement there,” Fields said.
When the postseason arrives, the Hornets will be playing in a new sectional. They will play in the Madison Sectional at Sunrise Golf Club in Madison after competing in the Providence Sectional the past few seasons.
Robin Embry, who is in his 14th season at Henryville, sees some positives in playing in the Madison Sectional, like not having to play perennial state powers Floyd Central and Providence in the Providence Sectional. The top three teams at sectional advance to the regional.
“It will be tough to get one of the top three spots [at Madison],” said Robin Embry, who will be joined by fellow area teams Charlestown and New Washington at the Madison Sectional. “But I do think you have to remember not only was Floyd and Providence getting one of the top three sports in the sectional, many times they are getting the top three spots in our regional.
“I don’t want to say it will be easier [to get out of the Madison Sectional], but there hasn’t been a lot of state finals teams that have come out of that sectional.”
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
Luke Davidson, Henryville: The Hornet freshman earned medalist honors with a 39 in a three-way meet against Madison Shawe and Eastern last Monday at Champions Pointe.
WEEK’S TOP PERFORMANCES
• Jack Sparrow, Floyd Central: Sparrow had a team-best 76 in last Saturday’s Hall of Fame Classic at the par-72 Rock Hollow Golf Club in Rochester.
• Mitchell Fields, Henryville: Fields tied Davidson for a team- and meet-best 44 in Wednesday’s win over Borden and Charlestown at Champions Pointe.
• Conner Welch, Floyd Central: Welch led a balanced Highlander attack with a Floyd-best and medalist one-over-par 37 in a big dual meet against Providence on Tuesday at Covered Bridge.