Hawks relying on play, leadership of Smith and Gabe


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Viera High's Briana Gabe (left) and Mary Kate Smith have enjoyed taking on more of a leadership role for the Hawks this season.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

As the two most experienced players on the Viera High girls roster, senior Mary Kate Smith and junior Briana Gabe have taken on a leadership role to help make sure the younger players are ready to play in the big tournaments the Hawks will have coming up.

And they’re enjoying it.

“It’s been a good leadership opportunity for us to help out,” Gabe said. “It’s cool to be in a bigger role than we were. We were freshmen once. It’s cool to be on the other side. We know how it feels … especially with tournaments.

“A lot of the new players don’t have experience, so we’re trying to prepare them for the high-pressure situations.”

With No. 1 player Manon Donche-Gay away from the team indefinitely because of a family health situation, Gabe and Smith have also stepped up their games, too.

Gabe shot a 32 earlier this year and Smith has been shooting a consistent 35.

“We’ve got a young team with some new girls,” Hawks coach Greg Ford said. “We have to find somebody to step in. And I’ll be perfectly honest, I think it’s made those two girls step up. Their games … especially Mary Kate. Oh my gosh.

“If we can keep moving forward like that and I can develop some of these younger ones, then we’ll be OK. Are we going to be what we were with Manon? No. Can we make the state tournament? Yes, I fully believe we can.”

Senior Melissa Luciani has been playing No. 3 for the Hawks and is the only other high school golf veteran on the roster. Freshmen Heart Gerosano and Anna Maria Tea, sophomores Alexa Baker and Ashley Armitage and freshman Katie Lathem have also been playing key roles.

The Hawks should be the favorites to win their 11th straight district title and should be the top contender for the regional title as well.

Smith said the team’s biggest goal is to get to the state tournament, because the Hawks obviously can’t contend for their third title if they’re not there. That’s where the play of Smith and Gabe – plus their leadership – can help Viera reach its goal.

“We’re trying to get (the younger players) as much experience this year that they can, to get them out there and exposed to the level of competition and learning how to play under pressure,” Smith said.