Kristin MacLaren named head coach of golf team

Gaels bid farewell to longtime coaches, welcome new face to lead team

MacLaren has eliminated the captains position this season.
MacLaren has eliminated the captains position this season.
Credit: 
Supplied by Queen's Athletics

With a new season on the horizon, the Queen’s golf team has a new face guiding them through the OUA.

Earlier this summer, Kristin MacLaren was appointed head coach of the men’s and women’s golf teams, taking over from long-time coach, Bert Kea. Sandy McBride, who also served the team as an assistant coach for 13 years, won’t be returning.

MacLaren has a long history with the sport, starting to play when she was 15 and improving so quickly that she earned a full ride scholarship to the University of Texas at El Paso. 

In Texas, she won numerous tournaments and was selected for several all-star teams. At the end of her playing career, she was inducted into the El Paso Golf Hall of Fame. 

Since 2014, MacLaren has been an assistant coach with the Gaels while working as a pro at the Cataraqui Golf & Country Club.Her extensive experience playing and coaching the game at an elite level, as well as her enthusiasm and teaching ability, bodes well for a seasoned Gaels squad.

“I love to see improvement [in my players],” MacLaren told The Journal earlier this week.

Despite success at the OUA Championships—both Gaels teams finished second last season—national achievement has escaped Queen’s golfers. In 2017, the men’s team finished a disappointing 12th and the women’s team finished last. Both teams missed the final cut this year as well. 

With MacLaren at the helm in her first year as head coach, the Gaels will be employing new strategies to bust through plateaus that have hampered the program in recent years. 

To start, MacLaren’s decided to abolish the captain’s position. Instead, she’s encouraging leadership by committee, citing her belief in the crop of players she has this season.

“We want everyone contributing. Everybody is a captain,” she said, adding having only one captain previously caused logistical issues for the program. 

“Sometimes [a captain] wouldn’t go to a tournament because they didn’t qualify,” she said.

Additionally, while MacLaren isn’t fond of the short six-week schedule, she has plans to keep the team on their toes. This season she’s introducing a year-round schedule that, including more time spent training indoors and in the weight room, promises to leave the Gaels primed and ready for their eventual showing at the nationals in May.

But for the fall portion of the season, the Gaels’ successes this year are a guarantee for MacLaren. She said that both men’s and women’s teams are capable of podium finishes.

“We have a lot of returning athletes, the men’s and women’s teams both. We have the team and the capability.”

It’s not this season MacLaren’s excited to see. She commended her newest crop of golfers, saying some will contribute immediately and others will make their mark in the coming years. 

“We’ve just started up, so we’ve got our one-year plan, but then there’s plans for year two, year three, year five,” she said.

MacLaren, a self-described “player’s coach,” has high hopes for this season and seasons beyond. With the help of her revamped staff and a new training schedule, she was resolute when asked whether the team can find their form at nationals next year.

“Absolutely,” she said.

 

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