Playing multiple sports isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s hard to switch your brain off of one sport to another.
Lemon Bay’s Christain Chandler, a golf, basketball and softball starter, knows that challenge first hand. For the first few weeks of softball workouts, she was unknowingly using her golf grip with her bat.
It wasn’t until one of her coaches pointed it out that she even realized it.
Chandler turned the corner as a senior, taking over the top spot on the girls golf team and leading the team to states. Her consistently long drives and low rounds also helped her earn the nod as Sun Girls Golf Player of the Year.
“Christain was one of the best female athletes that I’ve ever coached,” Lemon Bay girls golf coach Darrell Roach said. “She could do any sport she wanted. It comes easy to her. She crushes the ball.”
Chandler’s best attribute often came from the tee box. Her ability to outdrive many of the boys in the area with consistent 250-yard bombs down the fairway set up the rest of the hole and made for some easy second shots.
Most of the time, she didn’t even need her driver as she was just as consistent, if not more so, with her 4-iron.
“She really worked at it and had a little more confidence with all her clubs,” Roach said. “ She’s that kind of athlete, very gifted athletically. Christain was always there playing her best under pressure. She’s a real talent.”
Lemon Bay has had strong teams for a while now and that’s typically been because the Mantas haven’t relied solely on one player. Last year Meadow Southworth held the top spot, but Chandler and others were close behind.
This year was similar with golfers like Hailey Lainhart and Lauren Ragazzone nipping at her heels. That eased the pressure of being the team’s No. 1.
“Having a deep team helps take pressure off of me because I know I will have bad days,” Chandler said. “It’s nice to know that I have a strong team there to back me up.”
According to her coach, Chandler really decided to take golf seriously this season. Not that she wasn’t trying before, but she went the extra mile as a senior.
That included her recent desire to pursue golf in college, which came to fruition when she signed to play for Huntingdon College in Alabama.
Her fire and competitiveness was infectious across all three of her sports. On the diamond, Chandler made the switch from catcher to infielder and sparked a 5-3 start to the season before it was shutdown.
“Being a major contributor in all three sports is a testament to her abilities,” Lemon Bay softball coach Kim Pinkham said. “She doesn’t like to lose, at all. When she has faced adversity, or true competition, she is determined to work harder and to rise to the challenge.”
Chandler became more of a leader this year, though she had her own style. When she wasn’t practicing her Happy Gilmore-style drives on the range, she was keeping the group focused and offering plenty of encouragement.
On the course, she consistently led the Lady Mantas in scoring, which resulted in wins at both the county and district championships.
Her 82 in the regional tournament led the team and was the determining factor in the team reaching states. Though the course at Mission Inn was challenging, it was a perfect end to her high school golf career.
“My goal was to make it to states this year, but I missed it by two strokes as an individual. Luckily my team played well and we still got to go,” Chandler said. “It was amazing. The hotel and course was so beautiful and it was also nice to extend our season so that we could continue playing golf together as a team.”