Phil Kerr had a vision when he launched the girls golf program at Montague High School: Building the Wildcats into a state championship contender.
Kerr and the Wildcats quickly achieved that, but he never imagined the personal accolades that would come with it.
Kerr was named the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2021 for all divisions after guiding Montague to a second-straight Division 4 state championship.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be voted Coach of the Year by MIGCA. It gives me great pride coming from my colleagues,” Kerr said. “It’s an award that is given for team accomplishments, but also is centered around character and integrity and for that I am most proud.”
Last year, Kerr earned MIGCA Division 4 Coach of the Year honors after the Wildcats cruised to the first-ever state title by a girls sport in Montague history.
This season, Montague defended the championship in a nail-biting two-day tournament at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers East. The Wildcats defeated Lansing Catholic by virtue of a fifth-score tie-breaker.
All five of the regulars in Montague’s lineup this year earned all-state recognition: Senior Orianna Bylsma and sophomore Mackenzie Goudreau as first-teamers; seniors Gabby Moreau and Claire Meacham, and junior Natalie Kellogg as honorable mention.
Montague’s girls golf program has come a long way in a short time. The Wildcats did not even field a girls golf team until 2016.
“It’s been a steady climb, a daily grind, putting in the work to achieve an end goal,” Kerr said. “It’s been a full team effort and the fulfillment of some dreams for sure.
“I’m most excited to bring home championships and recognition for Montague. I love this community, and they’ve embraced this team and I in a way I never envisioned.”
It’s been a challenging year for Kerr, 36, to say the least. He is battling Ewing’s sarcoma, diagnosed with the rare form of cancer in late-July.
Kerr credits assistant coach Megan Brown, an all-stater on the 2020 Montague team, for helping this year’s squad stay focused while he going through cancer treatments.
Kerr, who is a native of New York, has remained humble since the moment he arrived in Montague in 2013.
“Winning an award with Montague’s name and putting it on the map for golf is a great honor,” Kerr said. “I’m sure there are people around the state who will need to Google our small town when they see it posted.”
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