In 2010, the Lady Eagles established their presence among Class A’s best by winning their first region championship and placing 12th in their first appearance at the Class A state tournament.
In subsequent seasons, that same team — made up of one sophomore and three freshmen during its 2010 breakthrough — continued to excel and made consistent trips to the state tournament, ultimately earning state runner-up honors in 2011.
One question remained, however.
What would happen to the program when those players graduated, chose to leave or gave up playing golf?
Clarice Cannon graduated and Kaitlyn Camp opted to not return to the team this year. That left senior holdovers Holly Cannon and McKenna Cua to shoulder the load with sophomore Madison Laton and freshman Danielle Sess.
Fortunately for Mount Paran, the Lady Eagles didn’t skip a beat under the guidance of Tab Griffin and maintained their consistent presence among the state elite.
“I think this year was a little bit tougher for us because, last year, we had four girls, and all four girls were really good,” said Griffin, the 2013 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Girls Golf Coach of the Year. “In any given match, we were taking two of the four scores, and it was different every time. This year, we had Holly and McKenna coming back, and two girls that were brand-new to golf within months of golf season.
“We knew we had projects with those two. So, this season was tougher because the pressure was there, and we knew, in every single match, the two returning scorers would be the only ones that counted. I think they knew that, too. It was tough on them, and they knew they had to perform every single match and every single hole because they knew that their scores were pretty much guaranteed to count in the match or in the tournament.”
With Cannon and Cua the only experienced golfers on the roster, Mount Paran still didn’t miss a beat.
The Lady Eagles lost a close dual match against Harrison 86-85 and wound up as the Area 4A runner-up behind eventual state champion Darlington. Mount Paran tied for sixth at the state tournament in Savannah, maintaining the success they’ve recently achieved.
With Cannon and Cua carrying the team, Laton and Sess picked up the experience they’ll need to help the Mount Paran program move forward.
In the past, Griffin said, maintaining the Lady Eagles’ success was “self-regulated” by Cua and Cannon.
“They knew what was going on,” Griffin said. “They knew coming into it that, the last couple of years, we’ve put our name out there in the state, so they knew they kind of had to maintain that from last year, and really the last three years.
“They had a lot of pressure, and really they did it themselves. They came to work every day and they put the pressure on themselves, and I kind of played psychologist. We never really talked about it. It was kind of the elephant in the room. You knew they had pressure on them, and they did a good job performing under that pressure.”
Cua and Cannon’s final season was a memorable one for Mount Paran as they were a part of unprecedented accomplishments for the Lady Eagles.
“They really helped establish this program,” Griffin said. “They’ve been a part of history, and they will be missed. Now, we’ll get to see what these new girls can do.”