Sophomore has found her niche

The Baltimore Sun

Jenna Albright, a sophomore at Marriotts Ridge, plays No. 1 for the first-year girls golf team. A year ago, as a 14-year-old, she played No. 2 for the Marriotts Ridge co-ed team and became the first Mustangs player to qualify for the state tournament.

Though Albright had been golfing for five years with her dad, Bill, and her brother, Steven, who plays No. 1 for St. Paul's, she did not find her way onto a school golf team until she was cut from soccer at the start of her freshman year at Marriotts Ridge.

Coach Mark Dubbs said all five of the girls who play on his team - Albright, Tory Stader, Lindsey Chun, Kim Sump and Lauryn Curtis - came to the sport after being cut from another.

"The neat thing about that," Dubbs said, "is that each of them found her niche on this team."

Albright carries a 3.9 grade point average in her Gifted and Talented Program courses. She hopes to play in tournaments this summer, has aspirations to play for a college team and "eventually get a world ranking."

What is your handicap?

My handicap, probably like a 12. Maybe lower. What I usually tend to shoot on 18 holes, except in matches, is mid- to low 80s. And I have shot in the 70s before.

What is your lowest score?

A 79. I'm trying to get it lower. But I like to tell people I've shot in the 70s before.

How did you feel when you got cut from the soccer team?

I was new to public school. I'd been in private school since kindergarten. And I was choosing which one - soccer or golf - and decided to try for soccer because I thought I'd meet more people that way. In the long run, I was kind of happy I got cut from soccer. Because golf is what I really love, and there are more opportunities for me with golf. I'd played soccer since I was 5, but golf is probably my better talent.

Why did you start golfing?

I started playing when I was 8, but started getting serious with it at 9 years old. The main reason why I started is kind of funny. My brother - he started when he was around 10, and I'd always watch him play. I kind of got sick of seeing him get a lot of trophies because he's a really good player. So I wanted to play, too. My brother inspired me to play golf. But it was my dad who gave us the clubs. He owns Mammoth Golf in Columbia. He's been playing for a long time.

Did your dad teach you to play?

Yeah, Dad and my golf coach, Ted Sheftic in Hanover, Pa. We still take lessons from him occasionally, and we call him and he gives us advice if we're not doing as well as we should be.

What is it you really like about the game of golf?

I like how it's an individual sport. A lot of sports, it's teams. But in golf, you're really, mostly competing against yourself. ... And I like that it's a sport of integrity, too. You have to be honest in it. It's hard to explain. You don't want to lie about your scores, and you have to be careful and make sure you get it right.

Have you ever had a hole in one?

Yeah. At Willow Springs in a practice round. It was pretty cool. A lot of people were shocked. When you think about it, you really want to get a hole in one during a match. But it was really surprising and amazing just to get it. It was definitely an accident. I was not thinking of getting a hole in one. I couldn't believe it. It was on the par-3 No. 2 hole, and I was using an 8-iron. Sometimes during a match my teammates are like, 'Jenna, why don't you try to get another hole in one?' But you can't think about getting it. You've just got to try your best. If it happens, it's amazing.

Last season, you played on the co-ed team. Do you like playing on the girls team this year?

It's cool. It's the first girls golf team they've ever had, and I'm the captain as a sophomore. There's more competition with the guys, but our No. 2, Tory Stader, she pushes me to be better.

Do you have any limitations in your game?

Well, I have 20/100 vision in my left eye. I can't really tell that it has any impact when I'm driving the ball. But putting, it means I can't really see the line as well. It's harder for me when I'm close up to things. I can't rely on my putting. It is nerve-racking. You can't rush. I just have to take my time. I'll probably end up with contacts, but so far, nothing has stopped me.

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