Girls Golf Coach of the Year: Valparaiso’s Bill Miller
By Tom Wyatt Post-Tribune correspondent October 24, 2012 11:16PM
Valparaiso high school's Bill Miller is the Post-Tribune boys golf coach of the year. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 26, 2012 7:20AM
Valparaiso coach Bill Miller got a call the night before the Lafayette Regional at the Battle Ground. It was late and he didn’t get the voice message until the next morning. But it wasn’t good news.
His No. 4 golfer, Madison Macke, had fallen and broken her tailbone. She was out, done for the season. And it meant Miller’s Nos. 5 and 6 golfers suddenly gained a tad more responsibility for the regional — a competition that was just a few short hours away.
As it turned out, sophomore Lauren Caputo, who had seen limited action during the regular season, stepped up big time for the Vikings as they played to a tie with host Lafayette Jeff, earning second place based the teams’ fifth golfers’ scores.
But it was an impressive outing for Valparaiso considering the circumstances, considering it was a brutally windy day, and considering a state berth was on the line.
The Vikings earned that state berth and went on to finish an area-best fifth the following weekend at the state tournament.
“There was some pressure on them,” Miller said, referring to the regional. “We weren’t sure what was going to happen. We knew we had our 1, 2 and 3 golfers. But we had to take a fourth score. Lauren Caputo stepped up. She did an awesome job. She shot a 96, but we needed it.”
Miller, the Post-Tribune’s Coach of the Year, had his players playing their best golf at the end of the season. Always competing with but ending up behind Chesterton throughout the season, the Vikings held off the Trojans in the regional and then finished seven shots and one place ahead of them at the state tournament.
“A big part of golf is resiliency, being able to take the good with the bad,” Miller said. “We pride ourselves on getting better throughout the year. Some teams can say they’re playing their best golf early. As coaches, we want them to be playing best at tournament time.
“Over the last few years, it’s been nice to see the girls step up at tournament time. And I thought the last two days at state was some of the best golf we played all year.”
The Vikings were led by a strong one-two tandem of Harley Dubsky and Jennifer Gough. Then Brooke Fullenkamp played solid golf at No. 3. Those three, including the injured Macke, gained experience together at state the year before, when they advanced but didn’t make it past the first round.
“Coming into the year, we really wanted to take the next step,” Miller said. “We definitely had high expectations coming into this year. But we still had a young team.”
And that’s why Miller focused so much of his efforts early in the season on composure.
“More so, it’s about the mental game,” Miller said “The mental game and the short game is a big part of girls golf — lowering their average around the green, chipping and putting. We worked extremely hard on that this year. And toward the end, it started to click.”