And McGill, in his 18th year, is certain they are the reasons why seniors Reed Silverman, Andrew Jamieson, and Ethan Haigh, junior Cameron Sundvold, and freshman Ben Silverman will be playing in the Division III state tournament at North Star Golf Club in Sunbury Friday and Saturday.
For starters, ever since the highly regarded Green Bears played below potential in last year's Division III district and missed a repeat trip to the state tournament, the returning players have made it their mission to correct that failure.
That's where the work comes in.
There were summer junior tournaments,offseason practice, and the challenging schedule this fall. This consistent work led to first-place finishes at four invitational events, eight dual-match wins, the Toledo Area Athletic Conference championship, and titles in the sectional and district.
“They have committed the last three to four years playing all year long,” said McGill, who has now guided seven teams to the state tourney. “Some coaches talk about working hard, and kids will always say they work hard. But you can tell these guys have.”
“We could not have asked for a bigger reality check than [what happened] last year,” Reed Silverman said of missing the state tourney. “It put our heads in the right place for this year.
“We knew from day one this year that we were going to put our heads down, stay absolutely focused, and take it one tournament at a time until we made it to Columbus. Now that we're [going] there, we can just go out there and play. As much as that loss hurt last year, it was a contributing factor to our success this year.”
As for the family angle, the more notable link comes from the actual genetics of the players.
Reed and Ben Silverman are sons of Judd Silverman, director of the LPGA's Jamie Farr Classic.
But, before Judd Silverman ran professional tournaments, caddied for PGA pro Craig Stadler, and had a solid run as a local amateur player, he had two distinctions as an Ottawa Hill player. As a junior in 1973, Judd claimed medal honors in the Class A state tournament for the third-place Green Bears. As a senior in 1974 he was part of Ottawa Hills' first state team golf title.
Andrew Jamieson is the son of Burt Jamieson, who once held the Ottawa Hills boys basketball single-game school scoring record with 45 points, and the younger brother of 2010 Ottawa Hills graduate Katherine Jamieson, who set a D-III state record in winning the state 300-meter hurdles title in 2009.
Ethan Haigh is the son of Eric Haigh, a three-time City League tennis champion and two-time district champion who was the Class AAA state single runner-up in 1980.
Cameron Sundvold is the son of formerUniversity of Toledo assistant men's basketball coach Bob Sundvold, and the nephew of basketball standout Jon Sundvold, who spent nine seasons in the NBA (1983-92) after starring at the University of Missouri.
Collectively, that's quite a family resume to live up to.
Reed Silverman, the team captain and a four-year varsity starter, is McGill's designatedNo. 1 player, followed by classmates Jamieson and Haigh. But the elder Silverman brother actually has the second lowest nine-hole scoring average (39.41) on the team.
The No. 1 spot there goes to “little brother” Ben (39.12), a 14-year-old who is all of 5-foot-8 and 120 pounds. Ordinarily, from a pride standpoint, this would not sit well with Reed. But, from a team standpoint, big brother couldn't be happier.
“I'm not going to deny it,” Reed said. “If this was an individual sport, like it is during the summer in the Toledo circuit, I'd hate [losing to Ben].
“But this is a team sport, and I'm so proud of him being able to step out of his shell and take on this responsibility as a freshman. No one expected that. He's performing so well, and we couldn't ask for anything more out of him this year.”
Ben Silverman keeps the game simple.
“I just keep the ball in play, hit it straight, get up and down, make par, and move on,” he said. “I try to concentrate on the main goal of just shooting well.”
As for scoring lower than his brother?
“He accepts it,” Ben said. “We play as a team, so it doesn't matter who shoots what. I always feel it's an accomplishment beating him, just because he's a senior. But it's the overall goal we're reaching for.”
“We're all good friends and we all want each other to do well,” Andrew Jamieson said. “That's important. None of us wants to beat each other. We're all looking to shoot the lowest team score and to defeat our opponents.”
Despite his father's tennis success, Ethan Haigh (39.85 average) never took an interest in that sport.
“He never really forced it on me,” Ethan said. “He kind of just let me choose what I wanted to play. I only actually picked up golf after seventh grade, and it was because of these guys [current teammates]. He didn't really care what I played. He just wanted me to be happy playing.”
Jamieson (40.0 average) was also a starter on the Ottawa basketball team which reached the Division IV state semifinals, a first for the school.
“It's special experience, especially being my senior year,” Jamieson of his second state appearance in golf. “We've put in a lot of work over the past three years, in the summer, and even in the winter.”
“I've been fortunate over the years to have several groups come through with experience,” McGill said. “But I don't think I've had as solid of a team and as quality of the individual as I've had this year. Any of the top four have the potential to come in and be the medalist of a tournament.”
Contact Steve Junga at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6461.