Friday, 16 October 2009 00:00
It has been some time since Mineola varsity golf coach Al Weidlein has had something special on his hands. While golf has received unfettered support from the athletic administration of the Mineola School District, building a successful squad is a challenge in a community without facilities. Playing against schools such as Herricks, Hicksville, East Meadow, Locust Valley, Cold Spring Harbor and Roslyn, the Mustangs face competition from schools that regularly play on prestigious, private courses. This year, though, coach Weidlein has two individuals who may be among the best to wear the Mustang red and black upon the green.
There are high expectations for Mustang Tina Chang after qualifying for the County Championship last year. The hard work and effort achieved through private lessons and junior golf tournaments has helped Tina’s game so that she will once again shoot for the same honor in the spring of 2010. Recognized as an All-Star, Ms. Chang will have the chance to break the school record for low scoring average if she continues at her current pace.
Captain Joe Calabro begins his fifth season with the varsity squad and has been a part of Mineola golf history. Along with Tina, Joe scored a match point against 2008 Conference Champion Cold Spring Harbor. This marked the first time the Mustangs hit the scoreboard against the powerful Seahawks in any golf competition.
The main objective for Calabro will be to attain a spot at the County Championships next spring. His ability to improve from year to year makes the objective readily obtainable since he possesses a penchant for practice, attitude to succeed and devotion for the sport without parallel among his peers.
Weidlein would like to see the remainder of his roster show advancement from the previous season. Unfortunately, golf has become one of the few Section VIII sports that has not moved to an ability-based conference grouping. This makes it extremely difficult for his team to challenge the opposition on a week-to-week basis. Despite this disadvantage, the team has no problem fielding a squad each year and many thanks go to Mineola Athletic Director Ralph Amitrano for keeping golf a vibrant part of fall athletics.
Last year, the team nearly pulled out a victory winning four of six matches against Hicksville before bowing on total strokes. With Chang and Calabro at the helm and a cadre of up and coming teammates, a win is certainly attainable.
The consolation for the team is the reward of playing golf on some of the premier courses in Nassau County. Aside from regular matches at Eisenhower Park, the team will travel to the historic country clubs of Piping Rock, Wheatley Hills, Huntington and Glen Head. They will also set foot on the tees of Bethpage State Park, home of this past year’s U.S. Open that was played by none other than Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and the eventual winner Lucas Glover. Practice facilities have also been made available at beautiful Harbor Links. Cold Spring Harbor, Roslyn, Herricks and East Meadow will continue to be the class of the conference.
The Mustangs have an opportunity to express some revenge in a unique way this season. They will be pitted against former alumni, Brad Buonpane, a 1995 Mineola graduate, who now mans the greens for the Carle Place Frogs golf program. Buonpane left Mineola as a scholarship student-athlete at Adelphi University and competed in Division II tournaments from 1996 through 1999. This should add incentive for coaches and players as they watch from adjoining fairways.
Junior varsity assistants Marty Joyce and Mike Robilotto will provide guidance in the spirited battles. While the Mustang golf team may not have the success of some of the other programs within the high school, there is no less anticipation and enthusiasm among its participants as each match approaches.