EAST LANSING – Players and coaches on the Detroit Cass Tech girls golf team did all they could to soak it in, but this had nothing to do with all the rain that plagued Forest Akers West during the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Girls Golf Final over the weekend.
Instead, everyone associated with the Technicians was doing all they could to soak in the experience and finish off a journey that not only illustrated how far the team had come, but also how far they want to go in the future.
It’s believed that Cass Tech sent the first high school girls golf team from the city of Detroit to qualify for an MHSAA Finals in the sport.
“It was very meaningful to make it as a team,” said Cass Tech senior Kennedy Watts. “It showed we can succeed, we are making progress and growing.”
The achievement was remarkable for a program that started just three years ago and still faces some obstacles.
The team doesn’t have a home course and has had to rely on alumni donations to purchase necessary equipment.
“It’s pretty hard for the girls to practice a bunker shot if they’ve never practiced a bunker shot before because we have no home course,” Cass Tech head coach Martin Siml said. “It’s like playing basketball without a basketball court. It’s like playing in somebody’s backyard and then showing up to compete on the basketball court.”
Cass Tech conducts practice sessions at the Royal Oak Golf Center, but was able to compete in various dual matches and tournaments throughout the year, including invitationals in Brighton, Rochester and Traverse City.
“Just not having the basic resources, but still being able to come and perform and be able to be here at states, is one of the best things,” said junior Sydney Evans.
The most memorable tournament obviously was the Regional at West Shore Golf & Country Club in Grosse Ile. The Technicians made history that day, punching their ticket to the Finals by finishing second with a score of 398. The top three teams at Regional events qualify.
From there, it was a whirlwind of preparation leading up to last weekend’s trip to East Lansing.
When word of the team’s accomplishment got out, the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press were among media to feature the team.
Retired Detroit Lions wide receiver and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Calvin Johnson even showed up at a practice to offer congratulations and support.
At the Final, Cass Tech finished 17th behind Watts, Evans, sophomore Sienna Hawkins, senior Kalista Bennett and junior Nyla Joseph.
More important than competing at the Final was the bar the team set going forward by simply being there.
Not only does the program hope future teams qualifying becomes the norm, but that other programs in the city and Detroit Public School League will be inspired.
“I think the girls coming after us, they are going to have that legacy to go behind,” Evans said. “It’s something to strive for as well.”
Siml for one doesn’t shy away from having lofty ambitions for the future.
“I told them I want to start a dynasty,” Siml said. “That’s my goal. At Cass Tech, we have dynasties. We have basketball, we have football. We try to make dynasties.”
Keith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties
PHOTO The Detroit Cass Tech girls golf team celebrates qualifying for the MHSAA Final from its LPD1 Regional. (Middle) The Technicians' Nyla Joseph putts during the Final. (Top photo courtesy of Faye Watts. Middle photo by High School Sports Scene.)
Join Elizabeth Coon as State Champs! takes a look at all of the action from the 2023 Lower Peninsula Girls Golf Finals.