Gabby McElwain was born with a right-hand malformation. She calls it her "little hand."
It didn't stop the Worthington Kilbourne freshman from learning to play the violin and it didn't stop her from trying out for the girls golf team this season. Neither did the fact that she had never picked up a club in her life.
McElwain ran cross country in middle school, long enough to learn that she doesn't like to run.
"I was doing cross country, but I didn't really enjoy it anymore," she said. "I'm not very good at sports and I thought, 'How hard is it to hit a (golf) ball?' So, I tried this out. I have never done this before, so I'm kind of really bad. But it's OK."
McElwain says she doesn't have an athletic bone in her body and thinks she was supposed to be right-handed, but she's enjoying golf. She has shot in the 80s in nine-hole rounds most of the year, cracking the 70s once as the No. 5 player on the Wolves' five-member team.
"It's a little frustrating at times," McElwain said. "I'm very good at hitting the grass and air and myself instead of the ball. I'm doing better (now)."
"She just perseveres," coach Jon Baird said. "She gets frustrated at times and I can sense that, but she keeps coming back. I think a lot of kids her age (would have quit). I'm just proud of her for sticking with it and I think it would be really neat to see her get to her senior year and see from where she started to where she finishes."
McElwain is still trying to figure out if her swing is right-handed or left-handed. In any given round, she can be seen trying both swings, going with whichever one feels good that particular day.
"With her, it's just about what she wants to do with the swing," Baird said. "This is my first time coaching an essentially one-armed player, so I put out an email to a bunch of central Ohio coaches and got a ton of information about assistive equipment that could help.
"But she's gotta decide if she wants to golf from the right side or the left side. That's what she's going through right now. Some days she starts on one side and goes back to the other."
Kilbourne has had dwindling numbers over the last few years with a revolving door at the head-coaching position. Baird was the third coach in three years when he took over the program before the start of last season.
"We only had five (players) come out (for tryouts this season) and that's been the struggle," he said.
Baird hopes the numbers will increase next season and beyond.
"All five of these players will be back next year," he said. "We're just looking for players. Until we get eight, nine, 10 players, it's going to be tough to truly compete."
Presley Zwayer shot a 112 to lead Kilbourne in the fourth and final round of the OCC-Cardinal Division tournament Sept. 4 at New Albany Links.
The Wolves shot a 496 in the final round and went 5-21 in the tournament to tie Olentangy Berlin for sixth in the overall league standings behind Dublin Jerome (26-0), Delaware and Hilliard Darby (both 20-6), Hilliard Bradley (14-12) and Dublin Scioto (8-18) and ahead of Thomas (0-14).
The Wolves will compete in a Division I sectional Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Royal American.
Girls volleyball team is pleasant surprise
The girls volleyball team wasn't supposed to be this good after losing seven players to graduation from last year's squad, which was a Division I district runner-up and won the OCC-Cardinal title.
But the Wolves were 11-4 overall and 7-3 in the league before playing Scioto on Sept. 24.
"This sounds bad, but (the season is going) surprisingly well," coach Meladee Hopkins said. "I had no varsity setting experience going into the season. However, I have been pleasantly surprised with how quickly we've come together to play as a team.
"Even the kids, their goal at the beginning of the season was to have a winning season. If we win one more match, we're guaranteed to have a winning season."
Senior Ellie Ishida, who missed last season with a shoulder injury, and junior Grace Cummings have stepped into the setting role. Cummings had been an outside hitter, but now sets when she's on the back row and hits when she's up front.
"(Ishida) put in a lot of time in the offseason to try to get to where she could be a key setter on the varsity team this year," Hopkins said. "(Cummings) played right side for me last year and we used her a little bit this summer because we had setters missing and she's taken that role. She has worked really hard to get where she's at, too."
Through 15 matches, Ishida had 163 assists and Cummings had 162.
"We're not a big team," Hopkins said. "But (our players) play bigger than what they are. If we don't get a stuff block, we at least slow the ball down so our defense can do something with it."
Through 15 matches, Zeynep Yildez led the team in kills with 182, followed by Olivia Karhoff with 92 and Lily Podolan with 87. Yildez also had a team-high 186 digs, followed by Karhoff with 126, and Lauren Bair had a team-high 53 blocks, followed by Podolan with 38.
"We're still kind of young and still trying to work on getting that team cohesiveness and playing well together," Hopkins said. "We're just taking one match at a time, one set at a time and keep moving forward."
Field hockey team progressing nicely
The field hockey team had a lot of turnover from last year to this year with the graduation of 11 players.
Still, the Wolves opened with three wins in their first five games and were 3-4-2 overall and 2-2 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division before playing Granville on Sept. 23 and Bexley on Sept. 25.
"I'm really happy about the progress our team has made," coach Alexandra Street said. "They are really able to grasp concepts quickly and apply them during games, so just seeing their field hockey knowledge and how intelligent they are as people has really been fun this past month."
Kilbourne played two games Sept. 21 in Cincinnati, tying Mount Notre Dame at 1 and losing to St. Ursula 2-0.
Olivia Barrie notched her first career goal against Mount Notre Dame.
The Wolves have been without Nicole Miller, a center midfielder, because of an ankle injury and hope to get her back within the next couple of weeks.
Lauren Scott, Grace Fronczak and Brynlee Pinchenet have emerged as goal-scorers. Scott tallied a hat trick in the Wolves' 4-2 win over Hartley on Sept. 18.
"I'm looking for continued growth and development and being competitive in games," Street said. "(We want) continued competitiveness for 60 minutes without letting down. That continues to be a goal. We don't want any lulls; we want to be consistent. I think that's the hardest (obstacle) at any level."
Below are the coming schedules for the Kilbourne cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis, girls volleyball and water polo teams:
Sept. 27 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington
*Sept. 30 -- At Lancaster
*Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Watterson
Sept. 26 -- Thomas at York
Sept. 30 -- Westerville North at Worthington Hills
Oct. 1 -- Division I sectional at Darby Creek. Top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.
Sept. 26 -- Westerville North at Mill Creek
Sept. 30 -- Thomas at Worthington Hills
Oct. 1 -- Division I sectional at Royal American. Top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.
Sept. 26 -- Home vs Olentangy Orange
Oct. 1 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
Sept. 28 -- At DeSales
Oct. 1 -- At Teays Valley
Sept. 23 -- Home vs. Mount Vernon
Sept. 24 -- At Ready
*Sept. 26 -- At Delaware. The Wolves defeated the Pacers 25-22, 25-18, 25-12 on Sept. 3.
Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Buckeye Valley
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin. The Wolves defeated the Bears 25-11, 25-19, 25-23 on Sept. 5.
BOYS WATER POLO
Sept. 28 -- Upper Arlington Duals
GIRLS WATER POLO
Sept. 27-28 -- Beast of the East in Reading, Pa.