During his 18 years as golf coach at Briarwood Academy, a state championship has eluded Dennis Coxwell and his golfing teams.
For the Briarwood Academy Buccaneers won the 2010 Georgia Independent Schools Association Class A State Golf Championship at Pine Lakes Golf Course on Jekyll Island on Monday, May 10.
"It's a great feeling to have finally won a state golf championship," said coach Coxwell, a longtime Warrenton businessman. "It's something I'll always remember."
Prior to last week's interview with coach Coxwell, Briarwood Academy Headmaster John Hammond praised his longtime golf coach.
"He's a wonderful coach and certainly deserved to win a state championship for all the hard work he's put into our golf program," said Mr. Hammond, noting that coach Coxwell is the longest serving coach in his administration.
"He's been my golf coach for 17 years. I'm real proud for him and our golf team."
During the state golf tournament, the Buccaneers shot an impressive team score of 345 -- two strokes better than Georgia Christian, who finished runners-up. They posted a team score of 347.
This year's golf team at Briarwood Academy consisted of the following players:
Carson Wiley, a senior;
Ashton Wiley, a sophomore;
Dalton Reese, a sophomore;
Brandon Brewer, a junior;
Blake Sowell, a junior; and
Taylor Coxwell, a freshman.
The six players were as jubilant as could be about their feat.
"It's a great feeling to go out as state golf champions," said Carson Wiley, the lone senior on the team, who graduated last Friday night during special ceremonies at the school in neighboring Warren County. "It's something I'll never forget."
Wiley, who played on the golf team for five years, said he thought the team was as successful as they were this year because they played with consistency.
"We were very consistent golfers," added Wiley, who posted a score of 90 during the state golf tournament.
His younger brother, Ashton, meanwhile, said of the winning the championship, "It's incredible. I never thought it would happen."
Reese, who scored a 78 and was named to the GISA All-State Team, said, "It was a team effort. It was great and a lot of fun."
Brewer said, "It was awesome."
Sowell echoed Brewer's comment, saying, "It was crazy. Winning a state championship is like being on top of the world -- on Cloud 9."
Taylor Coxwell said, "I'm kind of speechless."
Coach Coxwell pointed out that he believed the team worked hard to accomplish what they did, "because they wanted it. We've been close several times in the past, but never won it. This team really wanted it and they proved it by going out and winning it. The monkey is finally off our backs."
The Buccaneers defeated 12 other golf teams to win the coveted title. Aside from Georgia Christian, who came in second place, other schools placed in the following order:
Thomas Jefferson Academy, of Louisville, 358;
King's Ridge, 381;
Terrell Academy, 398;
Citizens Christian, 421;
First Presbyterian, 462;
Oak Mountain, 474; and
Covenant Christian Academy was disqualified as a team.
Briarwood Academy's team slogan this year was a quote from the late famous actor, John Wayne: "Life is tough. It's tougher when you're stupid." So is golf, according to coach Coxwell.
He explained that none of his golfers could ever be described as slackers.
"I never questioned whether they were giving their best," said coach Coxwell. "I knew they were giving me and their teammates their all."
The veteran golf coach said he was most proud of this year's team because of their honesty.
"I think the one thing that I'm proudest of is that I can trust these boys to be honest and tell the truth," said coach Coxwell.
"I tried to make them understand that whatever they do out there on the golf course, there are consequences. And those consequences, both good and bad, are far-reaching. It affects the team, family, school and community, as well as them -- the players. For them to be successful in any endeavor, they must realize that they were created for a purpose -- God's purpose and ultimately, it's not about them."