Natchez High golf team stars on, off course in 2017

Published 12:02 am Monday, May 8, 2017

Under the direction of first-year coach Richard Bellar, the Natchez High School golf team took this season to build on the program, but there is one area the Bulldogs didn’t need much guidance.

When Bellar took a survey of his team’s report cards at the end of the school’s third grading period, he discovered the 12 players combined were averaging right at 90 percent.

“It was great to see,” Bellar said. “That’s one of our biggest accomplishments to have this year. Their grades are important to them, and they are working hard.”

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Bellar said he wasn’t totally shocked to see the report cards reflect such high academic qualities, but he was glad to see it was a joint effort.

“A lot of my kids go to (Copiah-Lincoln Natchez) in the morning to take college classes,” he said. “Sometimes I have a student come to me and tell me they have to miss practice because they have tutoring that night. I don’t have to talk to them about their grades because that’s their responsibility and they realize that. It takes pressure off me, and I just check to see what they tell me is true.”

The Bulldogs didn’t slack on the golf course this season, either, Bellar said.

The girls finished third in the district, while the Natchez boys came in fifth.

“I’m proud of the improvement throughout the year,” Bellar said. “I think the kids really started to compete toward the end. It was a team thing for them, and it was important to see how well they did all together.”

Natchez was led by three senior players this year, and of the trio of boys — Charlie Latham, Jamar White and Robert Bradford Jr., Bradford Jr. said keeping up his grades is just something he knows he has to do.

“It can be rigorous at times to manage academics and sports,” he said. “I want to be great and be able to play sports, but if I don’t play sports I need something to fall back on. I don’t want to put all my hard work into sports and not have any academic background.”

Bellar said moving on to next year, he is excited for the Bulldogs to practice over the summer. He said Natchez will rely heavily on four rising-senior girls — Morgan Baskin, Kaneshia Jones, Shantel Berry and LeAnna Swain.

“The main goal in the summer time is to just get the kids out and play, practice, have fun and compete against your friends,” Bellar said. “All the girls are friends and with that, they will come out and they can social and play golf and improve their game.”