Well before she took the job, Brittany Stephens was intimately familiar with the local high school girls golf scene.
She also already knew most of the girls she would be leading as the new head coach at of the Greenwood Community High School girls golf team.
Hired in the spring, Stephens — who is in her third year as a math teacher at the school — already is comfortable in her coach’s role.
“I think she’s fitting in perfectly,” Greenwood athletics director Pete Huse said. “She’s had most of the kids in class, and she was a volunteer coach the last couple of seasons.”
It’s been so-far-so-good for Stephens, a former standout player at Whiteland Community High School and Franklin College. The Woodmen opened the season Aug. 4 with a third-place finish in the Plainfield Invitational, then earned a four-shot victory against county rival Center Grove in a dual match the next afternoon.
“With her being a Whiteland graduate and playing at Franklin, she knows the expectations here and knows the level of competition there is,” Huse said. “With the county and conference (tournaments), she’s played in all that.
“She’s a positive leader. She can be their friend in one sense. She knows when to push them and when to back off. She’s a good fit.”
Though Stephens has never been a head coach, the first-year mentor has one major advantage: She’s been in her players’ shoes.
And Stephens knows what they need and when.
“I’ve played golf for so long, and I hope I’m able to help them with anything I can,” she said. “The strength I have is I have a better insight of what they’re thinking on the golf course.
“I’m able to tell them about things I wanted to hear when I played.”
At the same time, Stephens has a much different appreciation for her past coaches, such as Grizzlies’ women’s coach Roger Lundy, who recruited her to play golf at Franklin College.
That is to say, now that she’s one being in charge, her own coaches just got a whole lot smarter.
“I’ll call Roger and say, ‘man, I don’t know how you dealt with me,” said Stephens. “We went to his camp this summer. I say things to my players he would say to us, and he was absolutely right when he said them.
“Now I try to tell them these things, and they don’t believe me.”
One of the biggest adjustments to being a head coach or the only coach is handling all the paper work in addition to all her math papers to grade.
“It’s a lot more administrative and I get stressed at times,” she said. “You just have to roll with the punches.”
Like so many players, Stephens grew up in a golfing family, but was the last member of her immediate family to take up the game.
“My brother played way before I did. My mom and dad played. One time when we were in South Carolina, I said if you’re going to drag me to all these places, you’re “going to teach me how to play.”
She learned well.
After enjoying a standout career at Whiteland, Stephens played four years at Franklin College and excelled.
She was the Most Valuable Player in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference in her season season for leading the Grizzlies to their second appearance in the NCAA Division III Championships during her collegiate career.
Stephens is grateful for all her opportunities, including the chance to coach her own team now. She’s even more thankful for those who helped her attain them.
“I would not be who I am without my parents, my brothers, my teammates and my coaches. They deserve more credit than I should get.
“I’m really excited about (being coach),” she added. “I want to be someone for them (the players) to look up to.”