The Cambridge girls golf team is gearing up for its toughest test of the season after winning the overall Rock Valley Conference championship behind senior leaders Aubrie Pero and Mary Hommen.
Cambridge’s head coach, Robert Pero, is the father of two of the Blue Jays’ top four players, senior Aubrie and sophomore Lissy.
It’s a role he cherishes — but one that sometimes clashes with his other role as the Blue Jays’ golf coach.
“It’s not quite as easy as some would think,” he said. “Sometimes, they want me to be their dad when I’ve got the coach hat on. But truly, it’s been great and so much quality time spent with my daughters, especially when I’ll be sending Aubrie off to college after this year.
“Just to have all of that time and conversation about the sport, on the course, at practice, at home at the kitchen table, it’s been amazing.”
Cambridge was the Rock Valley overall champion after finishing second to winner Lakeside Lutheran at the conference meet.
On Wednesday, the Blue Jays face a stern challenge, visiting Pleasant View Golf Course in Middleton for a WIAA Division 2 regional.
From a field of nine teams, the top four will advance to sectional play.
Cambridge, ranked ninth in Division 2 in this week's Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin state girls golf poll, is in a regional that also will include defending WIAA Division 2 state champion and top-ranked Madison Edgewood and second-ranked Wisconsin Dells.
“We want to go, perform well, and get the girls comfortable playing with the best golfers in the state,” Robert Pero said. “Focus on one step at a time, and do our best to enjoy it.”
Just like her father, Aubrie Pero has cherished the family relationship, saying it has paid dividends for her young career.
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“Having my dad as a golf coach makes me want to work that much harder. Because I do it for myself, but also, I do it for him,” Aubrie said. “He has inspired me and helped me to become the golfer that I am today. I wouldn’t be where I am without him.”
The Blue Jays lost several seniors two years ago, so Aubrie Pero and Hommen knew the burden of responsibility and leadership would largely be placed on them.
But then came some help, when one of Cambridge’s previous top players, senior Hailee Sundquist, returned to the team after skipping golf to play volleyball for the Blue Jays last fall.
“Throughout the season, the chemistry really grew organically,” Rob Pero said. “Aubrie and Mary set us up to build around. There has been a lot of hard work and patience, but it’s gotten to the point where Aubrie and Mary are seniors now and we’ve gotten Hailee back, so it has all kind of come together.”
Aubrie Pero and Hommen spent a lot of time on the PGA Juniors circuit over the last two summers. Now that the WIAA postseason has arrived, they can’t wait to take their best shot.
“My expectation for the rest of our season is to advance as a team to state and to keep playing like we do,” Hommen said. “If we all keep our scores low like we are used to doing, then I know we can advance to the next meet.”
Aubrie Pero is just as excited, saying: “State is the biggest possibility this year that we’ve ever had, and I’m really hoping that we can conquer it.”
Last year, Cambridge was seventh at the Racine St. Catherine's regional, with Aubrie Pero and Hommen finishing tied for 17th as individuals.
In addition to the family connection, the Peros are proud members of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and Hommen is of Native Hawaiian descent.
The diversity of his team is something Robert Pero proudly shares.
“It’s a compelling and positive story about young ladies with diverse backgrounds working hard toward one common goal, from such a small school,” he said. “You don’t necessarily see that everywhere.”