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2023 All-Area girls' golf Coach of the Year: St. Thomas More's Kim Zahrn

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2023 All-Area girls' golf Coach of the Year: St. Thomas More's Kim Zahrn

Why she's Coach of the Year

One of the more consistent and successful girls' golf programs in the area, Zahrn kept St. Thomas More humming along this season. The Sabers increased their numbers this season while winning a Class 1A regional title and having junior Ashley Wells qualify for the state tournament as an individual. We let Zahrn, along with his her husband and STM assistant coach Tony Zahrn, explain what this past season was like and their love of the sport:

Kim: "I started off as head coach with one girl as a senior and to get eight girls, that have never played golf and came out to see what the sport was great. ... My goal is just to get more women golfers. They don't realize that golf is something they can do the rest of their life. The best part is you get to be outside, you get to be with friends and it's a game that you can play forever. So that's a nice goal for my team."

Tony: "It has been amazing. Alan Dodds was a friend of mine at Lincolnshire and he came up to me and said, 'Do you think your wife would be interested in helping me, be my assistant?' And so that's how she became assistant. So this year she's like Tony, I think we're going to have eight girls. She goes, 'How about you be my assistant? You're already out there volunteering and helping.' And so she twisted my arm, so I jumped through all the hoops to become her assistant this year, and it was just a blast. The girls absolutely love her, and she's not been only a coach but a mentor and a friend. It's just been neat to watch her build those relationships and I'm there to help with some fundamentals and encourage and support in any way I can."

What's it like having your husband coach with you?

Kim: "He's amazing. I'm a hands-on coach so if you saw me at regionals, they all laughed at me because my No. 6 girl went first, I walked her down until she got close to the green. I ran back, walked the next one out and Tony was standing there and the guy at the start is just like, 'Does your wife always do that?' And he goes, 'To calm their nerves, she will do it.' I mean, I think I had 6,000 steps before the first hole was even over. But I'm a hands-on coach."

How did you get involved with golf?

Kim: "I've been golfing for 14 years. He taught me everything I know. I'd never touched a golf club either, that's why I think I can promote it really well. When I went to St. Thomas More trying to get more girls out and I just told them my story, I'm like, 'You know, you don't have to know how to golf.' My husband and I were on a date, putt-putting, and he's like, 'Hey, my mom just called, do you want to play in a tournament?' I'm like, 'Yeah, I can putt, I'm good.' A week before the match, he's like, 'We need to go to your clubs,' and I'm like, 'They don't have putters I can rent?' He's like, 'It's an 18-hole tournament,' and I'm like, 'I have never touched a golf club.' So we go, it's the first time I met his family, too, he's lucky I married him, and it was horrible. He would hand me a club, I'd miss, he would hand me another club. He handed me the driver and I'm like, 'What is that thing?' Now I can't stop golfing. I just can't. And I told the girls it's just a love. You have to have some ability, of course, but I said I can teach. So that's how I learned."

What are some memories that stand out from this season?

Kim: My girls and I like to have lots of fun. So we had a Barbie-themed senior night. We all had pink on, Barbie tattoos and we had Barbie drinks, so that was a lot of fun. Regionals were a blast as it wasn't expected (to win) and when we got that trophy, the tears flew. So that was great. But as for the season, I would say just these girls grinding it out, watching them learn and the excitement on their faces."

What keeps you going with golf?

Tony: "It's my release being away from work, being out there to play golf myself or playing with Kim and then as an extension, I love to see the progression of young golfers. I think of one particular person on our team, when she would hit a great shot, the smile and just the excitement that, 'Hey, I did that.' Their faces are what it's all about."

Kim: "First, you have to love the sport, and I love golf. I love everything about it. I want to be on a golf course every day. So the love of the game is really the number one thing. I also have the love for the girls for the high school kids. I'm a retired teacher, so working with this age group is way different from first and second grade. It's just nice to be able to hang with them and they want to hang with me."

JOEY WRIGHT

Honor Roll: The News-Gazette All-Area girls' golf Coaches of the Year

YEAR COACH SCHOOL

2023 Kim Zahrn St. Thomas More

2022 Troy Gagne Mahomet-Seymour

2021 Troy Gagne Mahomet-Seymour

2020 Alan Dodds St. Thomas More

2019 Alan Dodds St. Thomas More

2018 Alan Dodds St. Thomas More

2017 Pat Hettermann St. Thomas More

2016 Pat Hettermann St. Thomas More

2015 Larry Becker Champaign Central

2014 Matt Mills Mahomet-Seymour

2013 Chris Townsend Monticello

2012 Matt Mills Mahomet-Seymour

2011 Guy Percy Gibson-City-Melvin-Sibley