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Lone Golden Eaglettes Golfer, Anabel Leigh, Set to Continue Career At Trevecca This Fall

Noah Maddox
Posted 5/31/24

Anabel Leigh was the only member of the SCHS Girls' Golf team the last two seasons after just starting to play golf competitively her sophomore year. Despite this, and due to her hard work and dedication to improve as well as her walk with God, she overcame those difficult circumstances to continue her career at Trevecca in the fall.

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Lone Golden Eaglettes Golfer, Anabel Leigh, Set to Continue Career At Trevecca This Fall


In February, Shelbyville Central saw 100% of their girls’ golf team sign to continue their golfing careers at the next level. The kicker is that it turned out to be just one person, Anabel Leigh (pronounced “Lay”). 

Leigh graduated high school in December before signing with Trevecca Nazarene University. She has been the lone member carrying the flag for the girls’ golf team since the beginning of her junior year, and as one might expect, it has not been easy for her.

“It was really kind of tough because I never had the fun girls golf team experience that a lot of girls that I played with had, so it was kind of just me by myself,” she explained. “It made it kind of harder, especially if I was having a bad day, to kind of get back from that.”

“I've just kind of had to figure it out the last couple years,” she said. 

Since golf is such a mental game, playing all by yourself is a massive disadvantage compared to every other golfer that has teammates cheering them on and giving them pointers. According to the TSSAA Handbook, the standard number of entrants is two or three on the girls side with four or five constituting a boys’ team. 

However, the rules state that if a school enters less than four boys or just one girl, “such players shall compete as individuals.” The reason on the girls’ side is because to compile a team score, you need to count the two lowest scores, and it is quite difficult to have two separate scores coming from just one person.

As such, Leigh was competing as an individual at every single tournament. This meant her chances and opportunities of qualifying and moving on in the postseason at the end of the year were quite literally cut in half because she did not have the ability to move on as part of a team. In essence, her postseason success was solely dictated by her own performance and no one else's. 

All of that does not even acknowledge the fact that competing alone meant that Leigh had to psyche herself up and reset mentally all by herself. 

“Definitely having teammates who are other girls to help uplift and encourage you, it is a game changer,” Leigh said, “I played tennis with a pretty extensive girls team, and that really helps in those bad situations.”

 After qualifying and participating in regionals this season for the first time, Leigh saw her high school career come to a close after just three seasons at Shelbyville Central. Because she and her family moved across the country from California in the winter of her freshman year, she wasn’t able to join the golf team until the fall of her sophomore year. Once she did, especially after her sophomore year when she became the sole girls’ golf member, her family became even more important to her.

“A lot of times I would really just have to kind of step back. My dad and mom were usually there to support me at my matches, so that would really help, especially considering that my dad has been my coach the last couple years,” she continued.

“It's always been better at my matches to have my parents there.”

Growing up on the west coast, Leigh and her family yearned for a community that not just tolerated, but featured a Christian environment and promoted walking with God. Finding that in Shelbyville made the seemingly herculean task of fitting in after moving across the country much more manageable.

“I adjusted really well; a good part of my childhood was in Nevada,” she explained, “and it was really cool coming to the Bible Belt because growing up in California, not a lot of my friends were involved in church, so it was nice to get to move to a place where a lot of people share the same faith that I do.”

Leigh’s faith has been her driving (no pun intended) force, and to her, that is also what makes the chance to play at Trevecca that much more special. 

“I love being down here, and again, it’s amazing being in a place where there's a lot of people who share the same belief as you, and I just feel really blessed that I'm not just able to play on a golf team, but that team is Christian and that the coaches care really deeply about my walk with God,” she remarked. 

“They told me to pray about the decision and the opportunity to know for sure that it is something that I wanted to do.”

The saying, “Faith, Family, Friends” would certainly apply to Leigh, and it has been her family, specifically her father, that has helped her discover her passion for the sport of golf even from a young age.

“My dad is a really avid golfer, and I had taken a few lessons when I was 10 or 11 but had never really stuck with it, but moving here from California during my freshman year, I wasn't able to play then,” Leigh explained.

“When I found out before my sophomore year that there was girls golf team at SCHS, I was like you know what, I haven't been playing any sports through high school, so might as well give it a try.”

Anabel Leigh (pictured above) gets set for a tee shot during her senior season.
Anabel Leigh (pictured above) gets set for a tee shot during her senior season.

Give it a try she did, and that try sparked the beginning of a three year journey that ended with her signing to walk-on and play golf at Trevecca. Despite only playing competitively for three years, she has progressed quickly enough to be part of a full 10-member team in college. Her story of how that even came about is a testament to knocking on as many doors as possible just in case one might unexpectedly open.

“I was really dead set on going to Trevecca because I loved the school and all my touring experiences, but throughout my three years of playing I've really developed a love for the sport, so I was actually the one to reach out to the golf coach. I just wanted the chance to try out for the team, and when I visited this January, I was expecting him to tell me “we’ll see,” Leigh said. 

“Instead, he said they were working on expanding the golf team, so he told me if I wanted to be on the team I would be,” she continued, “So I went into that just looking for an opportunity to try and get on the team and ended up leaving with a spot guaranteed.”

She ended up officially signing less than a month later in February.In the meantime, since she graduated from SCHS in December and was not able to play tennis in the spring, Leigh went to cosmetology school.

“This spring I've been in cosmetology school working on getting my manicurist certifications and will be finished by the end of next week,” she said, “I’ll then graduate at the end of June and afterwards I’ll be a certified nail technician.”

She says that is something she’s kind of done all her life anyways, so becoming certified would allow her to make a little more money on the side while she is in school.

School itself begins at the end of August which is when Leigh says she will start practicing. Their first tournament is September 9-10, and to determine who on the team goes to compete, there are intra-squad qualifying matches to determine which five women get to go to the tournament. 

At the actual tournament(s), golfers will compete over multiple days as opposed to high school matches being either a 9-hole or 18-hole one day tournament. Her typical high school matchday routine was pretty standard with the goal being to “loosen up and relax.”

“I can’t play golf when I’m tense,” Leigh said. 

She usually arrived about 90 minutes before her tee time, and she used that free time to hit the range a bit before spending the majority of her time on the putting and pitching green. However, matchday was far from the only time she put in work on the golf course.

“I couldn't tell you how many times I've played Riverbend,” Leigh said, “Not only do we play a lot there during the season, but it being so close to my house is nice because I'm able to get out there often and work on my game.”

Riverbend Country Club is where Cascade and Shelbyville Central play their “home” matches, but it’s also where Leigh has spent the majority of her golf life practicing and honing her craft. She was even able to work there last year for about six months or so, and she couldn’t express in enough detail how much all the people she met mean to her. 

Reminiscing on what has brought her to this point in her life, Leigh thought back to the things she learned while playing alone as the sole member of the SCHS Girls’ Golf team her last two years. 

“I think the main thing I learned has been being able to stay focused and rely mostly on myself for encouragement,” she concluded. 

Yes, her high school golf experience probably wasn’t nearly as fun as it could have been, but the lessons she learned while playing on her own will help her more at Trevecca with her joining as the 10th member of the Women’s Golf program.

Anabel Leigh, Shelbyville Central Golden Eaglettes, Trevecca Nazarene University, Golf