CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Eastern Hancock girls golf team was in trouble.
With program numbers down, and only two golfers returning with an interest to play, the 2015 season almost never started for the Royals.
However, thanks to Abby Fout’s determination, Eastern Hancock went from two players to six in the blink of an eye.
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“She actually recruited every girl that’s on the team this season,” Royals head coach Chelsie Kelly said.
Luckily, Fout has a lot of friends. The junior, who also is active on the cheerleading team, went straight to her squad for help. She brought in four rookies to the links, including seniors Emma Lewis, Kensie Watson, Logan O’Neal and junior Emiley Carlton.
“She recruited me by telling me there were only two returning golfers for this year and was upset she wasn’t going to be able to play,” Watson said. “So me and a couple other girls told her we will play this season, so she could have a team.”
Fout is accustomed to seeing new faces on the team, though. She was the only Royals’ player this season who has been on the team for Kelly’s three seasons as coach.
“They all look up to her since she knows the routine of things and has been there before,” Kelly said.
Fout did not realize what she had signed up for.
“It was definitely a learning experience for me,” she said. “Teaching other girls to play was more difficult than I thought, but I loved every moment.”
Watson added how Fout’s positive demeanor was influential on a team full of newcomers.
“She helped our team by teaching us (new golfers) the basics about golf and to keep a positive attitude during matches,” she said. “We were new to the game and shouldn’t get upset if we didn’t have the best match.”
Teaching and golf runs in her blood. Fout’s father was the middle school coach at Eastern Hancock while she was growing up. Her cousin and sister were also very involved in the sport.
“(He) has always gotten me clubs when I was little and took me to whatever course he played on,” Fout said. “I’ve played since sixth grade. I’ve always liked playing a sport in the fall, so I just continued it.”
Eastern Hancock finished 11th Saturday (535) at the Mt. Vernon Sectional, failing to advance. Fout led the team with a round of 117 while Logan O’Neal finished with a 129. Emiley Carlton carded a 144 and Emma Lewis finished with a 145. Alexis Young shot a 154.
Fout looks forward to improving this summer for her senior year. She said playing with all the No. 1 players from around the county this season has deepened her desire to improve.
“All of those girls are great at golf, and I enjoy watching and playing with them,” she said.
Although she has another year of high school left, Fout said she wants to follow her sister to college and possibly enter the health field.
“I would love to attend Indiana University with my big sister to study respiratory therapy or optometry,” she said. “I’m also considering other colleges, like Purdue and the University of Indianapolis.”
As for next season, there’s no way to tell what will become of the Royals’ golf team. But with Fout in the mix, there’s always hope.