FCTS Golf Team Wraps Up Outstanding Championship Season
TURNERS FALLS, MA – The Franklin County Technical School golf team took a giant leap forward this year after posting an undefeated 14-0 record, winning the Bi-County League West Division, winning the Massachusetts Vocational Tournament title, finishing in second place at the Western Massachusetts Division III Championship, and earning a trip to the MIAA Division III State Tournament in Great Barrington.
“The first word that comes to mind is ‘unbelievable’ when I think about this season,” said FCTS Golf Coach Sean Knightly. “I certainly didn’t expect to win the Bi-County League West Division, win the Massachusetts Vocational Tournament title, and go undefeated.”
Anchored by seniors Travis Cutting, Tyler Raymond, and Hunter Sessions, the team rebounded from a 4-13 record in 2016, to enjoy its most successful season ever. Knightly said the key to the winning season started with practicing in the spring and summer. As a coach, he also better learned how and when to challenge his players.
“My players’ commitment and their passion for golf stood out this year,” Knightly said. “When you have the commitment and passion, it enables you to be receptive to coaching.”
Knightly was impressed when his players started playing like a team this season. Although golf is an individual sport, in high school all scores are added up at the end of a tournament, so in the end all of the players depend on one another. At the MIAA State Championship, FCTS golfers posted a team total of 358, giving them an 11th place finish.
Before the tournament, Knightly told his players that he was very proud of them no matter where they finished that day. He pointed out that they were facing stiff competition from schools from places like Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod and other eastern Massachusetts locales.
Knightly said the team overcame a number of challenges off the course, as well as on.
“We’re handicapped because we have work co-op and the players can’t always come to practice,” he said. “We have players from all different towns and they play on different courses. So when they play for the team, they might be playing on their home course for the first time. Between work and location, I think it’s hard for vocational schools to compete with public schools because of our diversity, which makes us a stronger school.”
Knightly gives most of the credit for the team’s success to his players who together worked hard all season to achieve their stellar record.
“My proudest moments this season were every time I saw a player learn about the game of golf or themselves,” he said. “Golf is about temperament, patience and the willingness to learn. Your greatest opponent is yourself. Player commitment was huge this year. They were adamant about improving.”
The high point for the team was winning the Massachusetts Vocational Tournament title, where they also played against several highly competitive schools from around the state.
“In past years, we would come in last or second to last,” he said. “The tournament was played in Acushnet, so we had a three hour bus ride and we played a six hour tournament. We played against 21 other schools, including some excellent teams from eastern Massachusetts and on a professional course. We won it. It’s a big deal.”
Knightly said the team will miss the seniors – Cutting, Raymond and Sessions – who will be graduating in the spring. He said they demonstrated valuable leadership and were good mentors for the younger golfers on the team.
“They were with our program all four years and they’re all extremely good golfers,” Knightly said. “They were responsible, meaning they took care of their academic and vocational responsibilities first. They were competitive. They had high levels of integrity as they represented our community, their school, the team and themselves.”