Casey Stone didn’t know how her team would fare in the Catholic League.
Turns out, pretty darn well.
Stone is a senior on the Nazareth Academy High School golf team, and this year, the Pandas joined the PCL for all sports.
New leagues can be intimidating. Especially when you’re coming from a Catholic Academies League where your opponents are all girls.
“When the season started, I was kind of scared because we were going into a new league with new opponents,” said Stone, who lives in Huntingdon Valley. “We always played with girls, and coming here, playing with boys, it was pretty intimidating. It’s always a little scary to do something new.”
On Wednesday, Stone and her teammates did something no other Nazareth Academy has done before. They won a Catholic League championship.
The Pandas finished as the top girls school Wednesday at the Philadelphia Catholic League Golf Championships at the Jeffersonville Golf Club.
Stone shot a 93, and her talented freshman teammate Adriana Seravilli took second overall by shooting a 91.
The Pandas, coached by second-year head coach Steve Sonneborn, won the first Catholic League championship they were eligible to play in.
Not a bad start, huh?
“I really didn’t know what the Catholic League was like, I was worried, so it feels so good to win a championship,” Stone said. “Everyone at the school was so excited, too. Since we won, I’ve been getting texts and calls. Everyone is so excited. So many people are excited, and that makes it more fun for us.”
Anytime you win a championship, it’s a great feeling.
But this one is special for a lot of reasons. First, it shows Nazareth athletes that not only can they compete in the Catholic League, they can be the best in the league.
It also was very important to Stone, who takes her role as captain on the team very seriously. In fact, she’s now in her third year of being a captain of the team, and she couldn’t be happier with what she’s seen from her team.
“People don’t think about golf because it’s not a super cool sport for girls, but it’s a great sport and I love being a leader of this team,” Stone said. “My job is to help our coach any way I can. He’s been so great since he got here last year. I help him. I set up the team lineups, help decide who will play, and I have organized a few different bonding events. We did a trip to Topgolf in the beginning of the season. I send updates, the practice schedule and communicate. I also calculate scores and try to help coach in any other way.”
She’s almost like an assistant coach, but make no mistake about it, Stone is a golfer, and nothing is more important to her as the team.
That’s why she takes the role of captain so seriously. She wants her teammates to post low scores, but she cares more about how successful they are, and where their heads are at before, during and after matches.
“The most important thing is team spirit,” Stone said. “When people aren’t excited, that’s my biggest job. I really enjoy getting everyone hyped. Even if I’m having a bad day, I think my most important job is to make sure everyone is excited.
We didn’t win a lot (during the regular season), we played against boys. Even when we weren’t winning, we would say, ‘Hey, we’re doing better, one stroke better is improvement.’ And we really got it.
“But it’s all of us, we all have different roles. We have goofy girls who make it fun, we have an amazing freshman who is beating most boys we play with. I just keep doing whatever I can to keep everyone’s spirits high.”
She does that and so much more.
“What doesn’t she do?” her coach said. “She’s probably our second-best golfer on the team and she does everything for our team. I call or text her and she handles everything. She’s a leader, always trying to work with the kids. The girls really look up to her
“And it’s not just golf. She’s just a great kid involved in a lot. She’s very important to our team.”
The only thing more impressive than her golf game, which she learned from playing with her dad when she was 5, is her grades. She has a 4.2 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, is a Diocesan scholar, which means she takes college courses at Gwynedd Mercy, is the treasurer for the National Honor Society, the executive of Naz-A-Thon, co-president of the cancer awareness club and helps other students by tutoring them.
It’s a full schedule, but she loves it, and plans on being busy beyond Nazareth.
She is unsure where she’ll go to college, but is eyeing something down south. Clemson is a possibility.
“I want to major in business, I really like that,” said Stone, who spends her summer working at a store in Ocean City, New Jersey. “My dad told me a lot of business deals are done on the golf course. It’s the same as playing against boys (in the PCL), I just want to show people girls can succeed in golf and business.”
And she has a trophy to prove it. And she’s happy to celebrate the win with her teammates and also her family.
“My dad taught me golf, he taught me everything I know,” Stone said. “He’s helped me so much. He still beats me, but hopefully someday! My family is a huge part of it.
“My mom supports me, she comes to matches. She’s always, even when I don’t have a good day, she’ll still tell me I did great. She always supports me. I FaceTimed them after we won and it was so exciting. They’re very supportive no matter what.”
The Nazareth golf team includes Casey Stone, Adriana Seravalli, Anna Woltjen, Ava Pizzo, Kathryn Rakowski, Riley Gallen, Ryleigh Cassidy, Megan Unger, Maura Champion, Sloan Schreiber, Val McColgan and Jaclyn Donnelly.