“It was a good year, but it was tough following up on last year,” Thigpen said. “We had a lot of firsts last year. It was a good year building off of the momentum from last year with this team that we had.”
Though Creekview had two seniors — Austin Currie and Marshall Richards — it relied heavily on juniors Kip Denison and Jonathan Moyer, as well as freshman Brady Keran.
After winning the Cherokee County and Region 7AAAAA championships in 2013, heavy expectations were placed on the Grizzlies, who weren’t able to repeat either feat. They finished second behind Etowah in the county, and third behind Cambridge and Kell in the region.
Creekview did advance through the sectional to the Class AAAAA state tournament, where it placed 12th in a field of 16.
For getting the most out of his players this season, Thigpen is the 2014 Cherokee Tribune Boys Golf Coach of the Year.
Thigpen said his program is in a good position to be successful thanks to the support it receives from both the athletic program and the community.
“We had several kids step up from last year’s team that didn’t play much,” Thigpen said. “We had a sophomore, Patrick Clemmons, that really stepped his game up and then a freshman, Brady Keran, that was a really solid player. I’m looking forward to what he is capable of doing in the future. I think we can continue to lead Creekview in the right direction.”
Thigpen said it’s nice to work with young talented golfers. He got a taste of it a few years ago when Denison arrived after playing in junior events for a number of years.
“It’s a blessing,” Thigpen said. “It’s nice to work with kids that are quality golfers coming into the program. We have top-notch golfers coming through the system and the junior program at Woodmont and playing Hurricane Tours and AGA and EGA Tours. They are getting tons of golf experience before they even get to me and then all we have to do is mold them to the Creekview standards and get them on the same page as everybody.”
Thigpen said with those types of players, he can just sit back and let them do their own thing. He said the most difficult part is keeping the players grounded and their expectations from soaring too high, too soon.
“It can be tough to motivate and push them sometimes when they think they are already good enough,” Thigpen said. “But I would certainly rather have it that way than trying to coach them up to playing good. Now, I’m more of a motivator.”
Thigpen said it doesn’t hurt that Creekview has a golf course practically in its own backyard, with Woodmont Golf Club less than 2 miles away from the school’s campus. Many of the players live in homes in the Woodmont community, and they will spend time at the driving range or playing a round, even when the team’s not practicing as a whole.
“Having a quality course like that really benefits the program and the kids,” Thigpen said. “It’s certainly worked for us.”