The Malden High School Golf team saw a great season this year, finishing the season and the State Tournament with a record of 6-6. Under the guidance of Coach Richard Malatesta, who came back to the team for his 26th season, the team managed to pull together a season that led them to States. With Malden playing in Division One, they went to the Renaissance Golf Club in Haverhill against roughly 15 other teams. Though Malden did not win the tournament, it was a huge achievement, with captain Gerard Mauriello stating “just getting to the Division One State Tournament is a big deal.”
The tournament was played on October 21st after Malden secured a winning record of 6-2 during their season, leading them for States. With the team not making States in five years, it was a massive accomplishment. Though the team did not win the tournament, they held their heads high and were very proud to have had the opportunity to play. Coach Malatesta mentioned how the team showed “perseverance and courage,” with Mauriello agreeing and adding to what Malatesta said, stating that he felt “everyone showed heart and courage.”
Just the ability to play in the tournament seemed to be more than enough for them, and even though they faced incredibly gifted teams, they showed a large amount of effort and played at a very high level. Mauriello mentioned how “[Malatesta] told [them], ‘[they] are playing kids who golf is their life. Some of those kids play every day, sometimes multiple times a day.’” Regardless of the opposing team’s efforts and skill, Malden played their best, with Coach Malatesta commenting on many golfer’s abilities this season, specifically those that went to the State Tournament.
With the tournament marking the end of the season, it is always necessary to realize that the loss of players will negatively affect a team. The end of this season marks the graduation of five of the team’s eight starting golfers, which will have “substantial” repercussions for the team, as stated by Malatesta. Captain JT Bowdridge, who is in his third year with the team, seems positive about the future though. Bowdridge mentioned how “it will be hard to go without them, but [he feels that they] can do it.”
The season saw many strengths in the team, some of which were more evident than others. The team countlessly showed their “perseverance, tenacity, determination,” throughout the season, as stated by Malatesta. As a result of this, the team has seen some major improvements in the past few years, with Mauriello mentioning how in his freshman year, “[their] team was barely scraping by,” but as the years went on, “[they have] become a team that not only wins matches but has a winning record.”
However, every season shines light on weaknesses within teams, with the golf team being no exception. One of the major things in the tournament was the teams sand play and approach shots. Malatesta also went on to mention that the major weakness throughout the whole season was “skill levels on specialty shots,” which he wanted to work on for next season. Something Mauriello picked up on was the amount of practice that the team saw, stating that they “could have used more practice.”
The challenge to come next year will be the loss of seniors, which tends to be a fear with most sports. However, the golf team seems optimistic about the seasons to come, with Bowdridge stating that he wants “to build a more balanced team,” and hopefully make it further in States. Malatesta however seems to want to focus more on the spirit and nature of the game rather specific parts of the team, stating that he wants “to help [his] players embrace and enjoy golf as a ‘Game for a Lifetime’.” Although, for the seniors that are leaving, it can be quite challenging to leave a sport behind, especially after playing for four years. Mauriello mentioned how he wants “the team to stay alive,” also mentioning that “anyone that plays golf or even wants to learn should sign up.”
Overall, the MHS Golf team saw a strong season. Having been more successful than they have for the past five years, it can bring a great sense of pride and accomplishment. Though the team will lose many of their star golfers due to graduation next season, the team is confident in their ability to develop and have just as great of a season as they did this year, if not better. The team played with “honor and integrity,” this season, and, as Malatesta summarizes, this year was a “fun experience.”