Sunday, May 21, 2017

ACE, Lee, Immaculate Heart SHINE at NJSIAA North Sectional at Stanton Ridge Setting Stage for Tuesday, May 23 TOC

It’s only five days after the 2017 NJSIAA North Jersey girls’ golf team sectional at Stanton Ridge Golf and Country club. And I can’t get over what an exciting time it was for everyone.
It's an ACE for Bergen Tech's
Akanksha Srivastava!

A big shout-out to Bergen Tech’s Akanksha Srivastava, who aced the uphill par-3 12th hole! It was a blind shot, which made it extra interesting. Akanksha walked up to the green figuring her ball was somewhat near the hole. “I hit a good shot and thought it might be close. But I was shocked when I looked into the hole!”

It is the first hole-in-one in the 8-year history of the North Sectional.
(from left) Coach Susan Polonsky and Bergen Tech golf team

As for me, it feels fantabulous to be ALIVE-in person at the tournament! I cannot believe that I am where I am NOW as opposed to 16 months ago.

I was in Savannah, Georgia recovering from the traumatic injuries I received on December 27, 2015.  An SUV literally ran me over whilst I was riding a bike in a low traffic, residential area.

I have no memory of the incident. N-O-N-E.

But co-director Johnny Siipola does. He was there -- riding in a golf cart with his sister Linda Sledzewski directly behind me.

I was all but pronounced dead at the scene. It happened 15 minutes from Memorial Hospital’s Trauma OneUnit.

Two days later, I woke-up intubated and thought it was weird that I kept seeing family members and relatives.

“Hmmm, something bad must have happened to somebody,” I would say to myself inside my head.

Then I would feel sleepy.

“I’ll figure it out after I take a little rest,” I’d think to myself.

It NEVER occurred to me that I was a victim. N-E-V-E-R!


Thank you to  Dr. Tom Davis' Trauma One Team at Memorial Hospital in Savannah, GA: they called me their Christmas miracle. Two broken clavicles, a major skull fracture, jaw-wired shut, La Forte 3 facial fractures (the most severe facial fractures according to hospital rating system) you can get. And some broken ribs, fingers and other things.

Eight operations later, Johnny and I are focused on recovery and happy to be spending quality time with each other. Hopefully the double vision will resolve along with all the aches, pain and numb parts.

My husband, family, friends, golf friends & my former HCRHS varsity girls golf teams parents and players (near & far, old & new) have provided much love and support.
Happily, here  I am writing about the 2017 NJSIAA North Sectional results after being out of commission for the 2016 event.

A week prior to this year’s sectional the weather channel was calling for rain and thunderstorms, but it never happened. Thank you for that. It was just a perfect day!

All 14 teams showed up on time and the folks at Stanton Ridge could not have been more accommodating and the girls played some impressive golf.

Scoring but no snoring with Ridgewood coach Brian Quirk

The on-line scoring system designed by Shawn Bennett worked great during its third year. Scoring team veterans Hilary Abramowitz and Ridgewood coach Brian Quirk functioned like a well-oiled machine.

Did I mention Stanton Ridge? I did, but seriously, getting to play such a beautiful private venue followed by a great cookout is something to behold. Thanks to the efforts of Golf Course Superintendent Rob Arnts

General manager Jeff Miller was on-site to add insight and make sure everything was there that we needed. Later that afternoon, Jeff was on-course encouraging and smiling while guiding a group of enthusiastic junior golfers. The sport is in great hands! I look forward to collaborating with your junior program.

Steve Peppe, who handled all the important matters: practice rounds, scorecards, water on ice, recording our scorecards, graciously handled all the final sheets and just about everything involved in making the event seamless!

 Assistant golf pro Kevin Wall was his smiling self and Membership Director Joanne Toth was effervescent when she stopped by the scoring table to say hello.

Our good friend and Stanton Ridge Golf and Country Club member Betsy Clarke volunteered to marshal a group. Great to see you and thank you!

Our pre-tournament media coverage yielded articles in the Star Ledger, Courier News, Morristown Record and Bergen Record. A Star Ledger photographer was on-site to get some golfing action shots.

Our friend Rick Epstein was on hand to help spot balls, but most importantly used his professional skills to take photographs of the girls after the conclusion of the tournament.

Next year Rick promises to photograph golfers on-course as well as lunchtime antics and team photos. We were unable to get all 14 complete teams photographed for a variety of reasons. Our apologies if your team or one of your players was omitted. Maybe some pre-tournament photos on the driving range in 2018? Thank you all.

Golfing friend Lynn Griesinger was on-hand for registration, check-in (and a hug for me!) She was on the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association (WMGA) team I started and captained in 2004 at Copper Hill Country Club. Time flies! 

So cool that the WMGA continues to utilize the "Glad We MET," slogan I originated many moons ago. They are the second oldest women's amateur golf association in the United States. Personally, I LOVED playing in their events located throughout the New Jersey,Westchester/Conn. and Long Island before my competitive career was curtailed by illness.

The WMGA has a new independent membership category in 2017. Juniors who have a handicap of 23 or less are qualified. Players without a club affiliation are being afforded the opportunity to become a member and participate.Read more about it by clicking here

The players… oh yeah. What fun it is to see 67 of the best golfers in north Jersey on the Stanton Ridge course. Get ready for the Tournament of Champions! At a new venue:Click here to view 2017 Tournament of Champions NEW Host golf club Watchung Valley

Problems? Well, with 14 schools (two of which were zero hour additions) and 17 groups we had a few issues, but managed to handle things. We applaud those coaches who post their scores faithfully at the website. It is the only way we can verify NORTH SECTION SCHOOL team records in advance of the cutoffs. We literally check the records school by school. But if the school’s record is not updated, we don’t know if they qualify to enter the tournament. Well, you get the picture. May we suggest offering a player that responsibility?

Kudos to all the coaches who verified that their team was in fact registered with us post the cut-off date.

Ten players broke 80, led by Hunterdon Central senior and Girls-Go-Golfing alum Katie Lee shooting even par. Runner-up as an individual was Immaculate Heart’s Yoona Kim, just a freshman.

North Sectional Champions: Immaculate Heart Academy
Immaculate Heart Academy won its first sectional championship advancing to the TOC with Hunterdon Central, first–time sectional qualifier Pingry and Ridge (tied for third place).

We were fortunate to have three USGA or NJPGA officials monitor the top groups – Walter Sartorious, Carol Graybeal and Mark Softy. Thank you so much!

Other volunteers? Yep, we had nearly a dozen adults join us to help with marshaling, scoring, check-in, driving range spotting, etc. The fact is, we could use six more. That’s something for us to think about next year. More marshals.

Colleen Edelman with
North Highland girls golf team and Coach Rich Smith
Thank you to newcomer Colleen Edelman, the assistant coach at Northern Valley. Colleen helped Rick monitoring the tough 6th hole. She is a member at Ridgewood Country Club.

We picked up one other marshal when Dan Kavanaugh dropped over to help with spotting and general duties. He is a recent James Madison University graduate.

Here’s a behind the scenes note. One of our volunteers was Hilary Abramowitz, back for the third year. She represents the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf of Newark:

I reached out to this group three years ago as they had a relationship with my Hunterdon County junior girls Girls-Go-Golfingprogram. Can you believe some girls’ parents from Hilary’s program drove from Newark to play in GGG events? Hilary came down to pick up the donation and help us out as well. She and Beverly Harrison are the main wheels behind the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf of Newark.
As it turned out, Hilary proved to be invaluable with the on-line scoring. We brought along some golf clothing to donate to their program. Next year, I will work on getting new clubs, shoes and clothes.

Oh yeah, my nephew Mike Leasure was missed this year. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and started his job with Accenture in King of Prussia, PA.  Congratz nephew!

Luckily for us, my twin sister Rose and her husband Jay Bellwoar took off from work and did the commute between Malvern, PA and Flemington.  Thank you to The Bellwoars!

Hmmm… of course, pace of play. We’re hoping to get more volunteers to shuttle the players between two or three of the holes… and emphasize the “one practice swing” concept, as well as “on-green issues”… we need to work harder on golf etiquette… and walking faster… teeing off immediately when you reach the tee, etc. These concepts should be stressed throughout the season, not just when the players arrive at Stanton Ridge.

Pace of play is always an issue. I promised after the 2015 tournament we’d work on improving this aspect. After my unexpected hiatus in 2016, the North Sectional tournament team will be working on that this off- season—believe it. There are few long walks between greens and tees at SRG& CC. I’d like to improve it with a shuttle system on those holes.

We are working on increasing the overall course yardage as well.  We will look for local breakfast and lunch sponsors. I could go on.

Meanwhile whilst trying to get this blog post finished I have posted the TOC pairings for Tuesday, May 23 and you and your teams have been playing EVEN MORE golf. Stay hydrated!

Thanks again for all the help. Johnny and I love to run this event. I think you can tell. Stay in touchencourage more girls to golf, and local schools to field girls teams,we’ll see you next season and WEAR YOUR BIKE HELMET!


Smiling 2nd place Red Devils & 3rd coach-at-the-helm Frances Gacos
Lydia Siipola started Hunterdon Central's varsity girls golf team program in 2004 . After growing the program and solidifying it into a a state powerhouse, the Devils finished their 2009 & 2010 seasons with back -to-back TOURNAMENT of CHAMPIONS titles. At the conclusion of her seventh season, she stepped aside as head coach  due to chronic health issues and assisted new head coach Robert Nicolson during his four-year reign. Coach Siipola continued her Girls GO Golfing junior girls fall program as a "feeder" program for four years to sustain the high school program. 3 of the 4 players shown above came from Siipola's program  from left Katie Lee, Kaitlyn Flynn and Jacque Petrocchi. You can read more about Siipola's coaching career and junior golf initiatives at the sidebar: Hunterdon Central's varsity girls golf team stats and Coach Lydia's Linked In page.

Smiling 3rd place (tie) Red Devils with Coach Siobahn Devlin
Ridge is another state powerhouse with 5 TOC titles
2011 through 2015
Advancing to the TOC is first time north sectional qualifier
The Pingry School and Coach Rob Mauer who are
all smiles after 3rd place tie with Ridge Red Devils. 

(from back row left) Coach Katie Brenny and the
Smiling Westfield Blue Devils
Marvelous Mt.St. Mary's 

Coach Brian Quirk and Ridgewood team

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