Parade of Champions
The St. Mary co-op team of six — Nick Shaffran, Joe Pendergast, Paul Bardenhagen, Joel Sneed, J.R. Duvall and Ian Duvall — along with head coach Jim Varley and assistant coach Tim Schaub were paraded from the Leland Country Club to St. Mary High School.
Along the six-mile route via M-22 and M-204, the honored guests were surprised to see so many supporters. After the parade a ceremony was held inside the St. Mary gymnasium/cafeteria. About 100 supporters attended the cermony.
“I thought it was really great,” said Varley, who has been coach of the co-op team since it was formed in 2006. “While riding over, all of us couldn’t believe all these people were out there watching, especially at cocktail hour in Leland.”
St. Mary won the Michigan High School Athletic Association state golf title during a two-day tournament that concluded on June 16. The Eagles came back from a two-stroke deficit on Day 1 to claim the trophy by five strokes over runner-up Kalamazoo Hackett.
The Eagles were led by All-Staters Sneed (fourth) and Bardenhagen (seventh). Pendergast, one of two seniors to play all four years, spoke at the ceremony on behalf of the players thanking all the team’s supporters.
“Joe did a nice job ... the whole thing was very special,” Varley said.
“It was really cool, especially riding in convertibles,” said Sneed, who was one of the reasons the ceremony was delayed. He was in Kokomo, Ind. doing mission work last week. “Winning the state title has kind of sunk in now.”
Bill Hendry, St. Mary’s first-year athletic director who got help from school staff at St. Mary and Leland in organizing the event, appreciated the turnout.
“The communities of both our schools came out in full force to support and congratulate the team,” Hendry said. “There were many pockets of cheering supporters.”
Hendry said the golf team was more than just a talented group.
Half of the St. Mary team earned All-State All-Academic honors for maintaining a 3.5 grade point average or better.
“Great golfers, great students and great kids who came together to form one team and achieved their ultimate goal,” Hendry added.
Varley and Schaub spoke of the history and the quality of this team and handed out several plaques. When it came to awarding the plaque for the coach’s choice for the team member who displayed the most to the team in leadership, support, guidance of other team members and sacrifi ce, all six players earned the award.
“It was a very memorable event, giving the golf team recognition on an incredible year,” Schaub said. “It was great to see both communities come together, to get an overview of what the team accomplished this year.
“We want to thank everyone of them for their support.”
Schaub, who with his wife Lucy helped start the golf team, said the season has left a lasting impression as it will be the last year that golf will be offered.
Besides winning the districts and regionals and the school’s first ever state championship, the Eagles also won three invitationals and finished runners-up in two others.
“It is starting to settle in and the golf team will have a well-deserved memory for life, from all their efforts and dedication on achieving their goals this season,” Schaub said.