At Notre Dame, Dubois in swing of things
As a freshman and a 5-foot-2 perfectionist who had just started playing a sport that’s often synonymous with headaches and red faces, Aimee Duboiswas handed two pieces of paper.
But she knew she needed only one.
Dubois had just finished tryouts for the 2009 Notre Dame Academy of Hingham golf squad — a team that had won seven consecutive state championships.
But Dubois could hardly hit the ball 170 yards.
In nine holes at Rockland Golf Course, in a group with three other girls, one who carded a 30, Dubois shot a 45. She took another look at the two sheets of paper. One was the rigorous schedule for the varsity squad. The other was the consolation prize: the junior varsity schedule. She tossed the first one aside.
It was the wrong choice. Dubois wasn’t sure how, but she made the varsity.
“When I came here to interview for the coaching position [13 years ago], the first question I asked was, ‘Do you want this to be a competitive program?’
“Because I had to cut eight or nine seniors. Six or seven were supposed to be varsity players. I called [athletic director] Donna Brickleyand I said if you want this to be legit, you’ve got to take the heat.
“She said, ‘OK.’ So I take two or three freshmen every year. That’s my philosophy. I go off 75 percent scores during tryouts and the dictator inside me gets the other 25 percent.”
Dubois still needed more lessons. She dissected every part of her swing. She studied the courses. And she bought into Gianferante’s system of commitment.
Seven days a week? Sure. Through the rain and mud? Of course. One time it started to pour when the team was out practicing. The starter went out to find Gianferante on the course. He rolled up in his golf cart and told the coach to go rally his kids.
“Is there peril?” Gianferante asked.
The old man was confused. “Huh?”
“Thunder and lightning. Is there any?”
The man tried to reason with Gianferante.
“No. But it’s pouring rain.”
“If there’s no peril,” the coach said, “there’s golf.”
Gianferante demanded dedication. “I guess these days you can be skeptical about coaches,” said Brickley, the athletic director.
“It was just a matter of getting to know him. He’s a man of great integrity.”
“He’s committed to running a ‘legit program,’ as he would call it — not that it wasn’t legit before he got here. But he demands hard work and he encourages the girls. He makes it fair. And they respect him because of it.”
Dubois went from playing out of the No. 8 spot early in the 2009 season too the No. 4 position by the end of the year. She remembers getting an eight on one hole at Sterling National during the state finals.
It was a challenging one — about 170 yards to a water hazard (the drop was behind the hazard) and about another 170 to clear it. Dubois cranked her ball straight in on her first shot.
“She thinks everything has to be perfection,” Gianferante said. “I tell her even the best in the world miss five greens a round. She has trouble with that.”
Dubois distinctly remembers one girl carding a 40 on that treacherous hole. But Dubois bounced back and saved eight. She finished with 100. Notre Dame won another state title.
This past spring, Dubois, who now stands at 5-foot-7 and has a powerful strike that can clear as much as 240 yards, was exceptional. She and best friend Lauren Flynn, were the No. 2 and No. 1 golfers for Notre Dame, respectively.
Flynn made the team as a freshman, too. She typically posted lower scores than Dubois, but by the time their senior year came around, the two were going back and forth for the top spot. It was usually Flynn, but if Dubois played a better round, the coach would tease Flynn that she was no longer No. 1.
“They have a rivalry, but it’s a beautiful rivalry,” said Gianferante.
Flynn, a Milton resident that will play at Brown, shot a 74 in the girls’ team state championship at Holden Hills Country Club last month. The next best score was an 83, shot by Dubois (headed to Vassar).
The Cougars won another state title, the fourth for the seniors and the 11th consecutive title for Notre Dame.
Gianferante says it’s because he’s had amazing players with fantastic work ethics and a team-first mentality.
But in 13 years at the school, his teams have gone 212-6. He must be doing something right.
Craig Najarian, a 1991 graduate of Westborough High School who later spent three years as head baseball coach at College of the Holy Cross, is leaving his post as athletic director at Foxborough High to take over the same position at Holliston High, starting July 1. Najarian spent the last five years at Foxborough. He and his young family reside in Northborough. . . . Sharon High School tennis star Eric Bloom was the co-recipient of the Saul Nechtem All-Around Athlete Award at the B’nai B’rith Sports Lodge of New England’s All-Scholastic Awards breakfast last Sunday in Dedham. He will attend Cornell. . . . Whitman-Hanson Regional High School announced Joe Bina, a 1988 graduate, as the new boys’ ice hockey head coach. He leaves Xaverian Brothers, where he served as an assistant for the last five years.
Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.