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Rookie head coach Paris leads Lady Falcons golf team into tournament

October 2, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Austintown's Jen Paris started playing golf regularly when she was in the sixth grade.

At that point of her life, Paris' father and uncle were in country club management so it was easy for the grade-schooler to swing a club at her leisure. All of that time on the course helped Paris develop an absolute infatuation for the sport. A little more than 20 years later, Paris has parlayed that passion into the head coaching gig for the Fitch girls team. As her team gets ready to embark on the state tournament, Paris set aside a second to reflect on how this lifelong dream has become a reality.

"I've always been around the golf course," Paris said. "It's a family thing. I worked at country clubs then played golf there on my days off. My sister and my cousins, who were also my neighbors, played with me growing up. And now I love to coach."

Article Photos

The Fitch varisty girls golf team with new head coach are: Hannah Logan, Katelyn Long, Cammille Hagan, Coach Jen Paris, Hailey Logan and Gianna Panzott.

Paris was hired for the Fitch spot in July after being approved by the school board. Being anointed that late in the offseason was a burden for the rookie coach, especially since her team was devoid of upperclassmen. This year's Lady Falcons' roster is made up of 10 players, but three of those girls are sophomores and five are freshmen (there is one senior and one junior). The Falcons started sectional tournament play this past Tuesday following a regular season that saw cumulative scores drop from the low 200's into the mid 180's. Fitch's overall regular season record at press time was 4-8. Although Paris doesn't expect a miracle end to her group's playoff run, she does believe they can continue their strong progress into October.

"Our record is a struggle, but from where we started to now is a big difference," the coach said. "We're seeing improvement. The rebuilding is going really well. We knew this season would be rough. Where we're going to be is going to be better than where we were in the past."

Paris' past saw her as one of the best golfers in the old Steel Valley Conference. She is a 2007 graduate of Ursuline High School where she was twice named to the All-Conference team. During Paris' time at Ursuline, the Lady Fighting Irish captured multiple SVC championships and she also connected on a hole in one. Currently, Paris has aced her leadership skills as a STEM instructor in Austintown for seventh and eighth graders. She definitely thinks that bond she has formed with her middle schoolers translates to her new team.

"It's all about building relationships," said Paris about coaching. "It's important to get young girls to play as a team. Golf's an individual sport, but sometimes you have a teammate who didn't shoot well, and you have to pull them through."

While beating the likes of Boardman, Canfield, Howland, Kent Roosevelt, Chardon and Kenston in this year's Division I tourney may seem to be a daunting task, Paris has her eyes set firmly on the future. She plans to be a major part of that future for a long time as well. Her husband Joe will be entering his fourth season as Fitch baseball head coach this spring, so she won't have to go far to get even greater support either.

"(Fitch) has had three different coaches over the past few years so the parents want me to stay," Paris said. "We've built a booster club and have a strength and conditioning coach now. Our goal is to compete in the league (next year). It's cool to build these relationships. I'm trying to get as many girls, even my seventh and eighth graders, involved. I'm excited about having younger girls to grow with."



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