by Joshua Carlson
The Grand Rapids Community College Men’s Golf team is looking to continue the success they had last season and use the fall season to prepare for a national appearance this spring. Starting off the fall season, the men’s team took first in the Sam Kromer Invitational, and finished second in the Muskegon Fall Invite.
Reigning Michigan Community College Athletic Association coach of the year John Forton is at the helm for the Raiders during his fifth year with the team. Looking to stay focused and improve, Forton is continuing to challenge his players despite their recent success.
“We need to work smarter and harder,” Forton said. “Some of our key players need to continue to perform better, and unless we are in a four-year (university) tournament, I expect us to win.”
Their goal for this year is clear: to win. Facing tougher competition than in past years, this year’s men’s squad is going to need all of their talent to do just that. Leading the men’s team will be returning sophomore and Western Conference Co-Freshman of the year, Cooper Bell, who Forton says has taken on a leadership role in his second year of play.
“I was a captain on my golf team and played hockey in high school, so I knew coming in what it meant for a team to have a leader,” Bell said. “We have a lot of talent this year so it’s important we have guys who want to work hard and stay focused to win, and I think we have that.”
A fellow teammate of Bell’s, Dominic Luciani, can also attest to how Bell has inspired a success-driven team.
“He’s great at what he does, and he builds other guys up,” said Luciani. “He leads by example, his stature, and what he does around a golf course is easy to build off of and it’s great for the younger guys.”
Luciani himself is going to be a key contributor in his first year for the Raiders this fall and spring season. Making a smooth transition from high school to college in his first two matches with the Raiders this fall, he has shot a pair of 74’s (+2) respectively and is looking to continue that success and help the team make an appearance at nationals this spring. Bell says Dominic is going to be a great contributor to the team.
“I played three years of high school with Dominic and his success is always something I’ve wanted to see.” Bell said. “He works hard, so for him to have this success is great.”
This fall, the Raiders are going to take every match one at a time and utilize practices to focus and fine-tune their skills. Momentum like this can carry them into a successful winter season so they can be prepared for the spring to once again win conference and make an appearance at a national.
Be on the lookout for the Raiders this Friday, Sept. 20. for the MCCAA Fall Preview at the Arbor Hills Golf Club where they will have their last match against conference play for the fall season.