FORTVILLE — Aaron Shewman isn’t afraid of a challenge.
As the former head girls golf coach at Winchester High School for two seasons, call out numbers were low during his initial year in 2013, but instead of settling for poor turnout, he found a way to generate excitement.
“I had maybe six or seven girls my first year and then it went to 12 by my second year,” Shewman said. “I made it my goal to make the program bigger, and we were able to do it because of what the team did.”
Shewman, 46, has a similar ambition for his new post at Mt. Vernon High School where he was approved as the new girls golf coach by the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation board on July 18.
Story continues below gallery
The Centerville graduate (1989) takes over the Marauders’ program for Caleb Zelencik, who stepped down as girls coach this spring after leading the team for 10 years.
“Caleb has done a great job with the program, and obviously, he’s still around as a teacher and with the boys (golf) program,” Mt. Vernon athletic director Brandon Ecker said. “Aaron is someone who will be able to take over the program and keep it moving forward because he has a great background, not only playing golf, but coaching.”
Shewman’s knowledge stems from countless rounds played from his youth. A three-year varsity starter at Centerville, he was a regional qualifier as a senior and never ventured far from the course after graduation.
Serving four years with the United States Army Reserves, he always found time to play. Anything less would go against the grain of his family’s passion.
“My cousin’s son (Kaleb Shewman) is the pro at Dye’s Walk Country Club in Greenwood,” Shewman said. “My whole family is golfers, my dad, uncles, everyone. I’ve played my whole life. The only sport I played in high school was golf. It’s in our blood.”
Shewman led the Centerville program in 2013 and 2014. Not only was he able to build program depth, he sparked an upward trend as the team progressed quickly in the postseason.
In his first season, the Elks finished eighth in the Muncie Sectional. By the next year, they jumped to fourth, just missing the regional team cut by four strokes and improved by 76 swings compared to the year prior.
A big reason for the surge were numbers, Shewman said, and competitiveness.
“I liked the challenge. Getting through it at Winchester made it fun, and it brought more girls to the team, wanting to play,” He said. “Hopefully, we can do that this year and get more out next year.”
Hired on officially last Wednesday, Shewman admits the timing requires a rapid transition with the first practice this Friday and the season opener at the team’s new home at Arrowhead Golf Course against Shelbyville on Aug. 3.
Fortunately, the cupboard is far from bare, which will ease the quick turnaround.
After a 2014 season with only four golfers, Zelencik’s Marauders witnessed an influx with six competitors on the roster last fall. Despite losing both Molly Yee and Briley Wills to graduation, Mt. Vernon returns four sophomores in 2016 and gained two newcomers.
Incoming sophomores Charley True, twins Ava and Lily Hampton and Savannah McKemie are back. Meanwhile, freshman Katie Davis joins the group along with sophomore Morgan Hear.
“I’m excited to come aboard and am looking forward to having a young team and teaching them what I know,” Shewman said. “I told them (on Monday in our first meeting) that what I’m best at is chipping and putting. I feel like that’s the biggest part of the game. You have to do both to win. They seemed excited to get started.”
True, who tied for 11th at the IHSAA state finals last October, has already begun, said Shewman.
The sectional medalist has been competing regularly this offseason and is eager to build off her All-Hoosier Heritage Conference and all-county breakout in 2015.
Her drive on the course is giving the team and her new coach aspirations of rekindling past traditions.
Under Zelencik the program won two sectional team titles in 2012 and 2013 while going back-to-back as Hancock County champions.
Ecker believes Shewman has the know-how to help the Marauders shoot for those same targets sooner rather than later.
“He has an understanding of not only the intricacies of coaching girls sports at the high school level, but comes in here bringing a wealth of knowledge that will hopefully help develop a lot of our younger players,” Ecker said. “Golf is so different than any other sport. It’s driven by technical soundness, and Aaron has a strong understanding of the game.”
His experience with high-level golfers will come in handy this fall as True looks to make another push at state after carding a 10-over par 160 at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel as a freshman.
At Winchester, Shewman mentored Mackenzie Mehaffey, who moved on to continue her career at Olivet Nazarene University.
“I was glad to hear I had another girl like Mackenzie. That made the idea of coming over here even better,” Shewman said. “(Charley has) been playing all summer and played (Monday) at Prairie View. She’s ready.”
Name: Aaron Shewman
Children: Chelsea, 19; Austin, 12
High School: Centerville High School, 1989
Military Service: U.S. Army Reserves (4 years)
Employment: The Sagamore Golf Club (Noblesville), U.S. Postal Service
Previous Coaching Experience: Winchester High School (girls team – 2013, 2014)