Coming Back From COVID-19: Versailles boys golf used pandemic to grow as a team

Michael Losch
Lake Sun Leader
Versailles' Kyle Bartlett.

The “Coming Back From COVID-19” series will focus on spring sports programs at Camdenton, Osage, Eldon, Versailles, Macks Creek and Climax Springs who saw their seasons stripped away due to the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. The series will highlight how these programs handled those tough times and their return to action.

In the toughest of times, it can always be useful to find the good in any situation. 

Versailles unfortunately did not have the opportunity to tee off a brand new season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was also a chance to move forward despite being robbed of a season. Versailles coach Kyle Nolawski has been looking to turn the culture around and he said his program moved toward that direction, becoming more than just a team who shows up to the course.

“We are fighting a culture that, in the past, has been only about showing up to the course at the same time rather than bonding as another team would. In that regard, the pandemic actually showed us how close we could be as a team and helped us grow a little bit together,” he said. “I think that this also made us much more grateful for the opportunities we have to play and compete.” 

Nolawski noted that the pandemic almost forced the program in that direction as it sought to build an identity and team philosophy and he found that growth to be more worthwhile than any scorecard. 

Finally getting a chance to step back on the links, Versailles will feature the return of seniors Joel Faron and Kyle Bartlett who will be team captains this spring along with sophomore Joseph Courter. Bartlett is the younger brother of 2019 graduate Ori Bartlett who finished his career as a two-time state medalist, placing 12th as a junior and 10th as a senior, respectively.

“I think we have a unique mixture this year of capable student-athlete leadership with our three captains, Joel, Kyle and Joseph, and newcomers who are excited and passionate to learn and compete every day to get better,” Nolawski noted. “I think this year could be an extremely important year for our team as far as our culture and instilling the philosophy and mentality we can be proud of.” 

The coach also mentioned that right now, the one thing that will quickly need to be gained is experience considering the absence of a whole season last year. 

“We have a few guys who can compete as is, but our team is young and unfortunately the cancellation of last year’s season robbed us of valuable experience as it did for everyone,” he said. “That being said, this situation is temporary, of course. With the start of the new season I look forward to getting a lot of guys a lot of playing time on the course and see their confidence grow as both players and young men.” 

Well, it certainly helps to have a positive outlook in pursuit of that objective and that is what some of the captains share. Not having the opportunity to play last year, something former team captain Sydney Snider did not get a chance to do, put things in perspective.

“It means a lot to my teammates and myself that we get a season this year. We didn’t get a chance to play last year and I know it upset all of us,” Faron stated. “We’re going into this season to have fun and show other teams that Versailles has improved and worked hard over the break.” 

This will be the first actual season of high school golf for Courter who missed out on his freshman campaign. He is looking forward to getting to work.

“Since we didn’t get our season last year, I think I speak for the rest of the team saying we are excited and relieved we get to return. We are approaching this season by encouraging and building up each other as a team,” the sophomore noted. “We are working hard to be the best team possible.” 

Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at mlosch@lakesunonline.com or 573-346-2132