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All in the Family

Young golfer next in family line of success

Posted: October 19, 2008 7:20 p.m.
Updated: December 21, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Hart freshman Kendall Dusenberry, competing for the Foothill League MVP, is familiar with athletic excellence, her mother a former Golden League MVP and her grandfather a former coach for the Indians.

 
On a late September night, mother and daughter were playing a game of Scrabble.

The competitive mother knew her daughter shared the same trait. But she didn't know the ferocity of it.

Then mother laid down a word.

"I don't remember what it was. Must've started with an ‘X,'" mother says.

Triple-word score.

The competitive daughter then grabbed her letters and pitched them across the room and into the fireplace, upset by the defeat.

"I was winning," the daughter says. "She took it away from me. I felt really smart. She crushed my dreams."

Mother isn't the one who has to deal with this competitiveness as much as golfers and basketball players do, though.

But she recalls what it was like to stare down competition.

She definitely recalls how it was when she was a freshman sensation, too. Just like her daughter.

The daughter, Hart High freshman Kendall Dusenberry, is just 14 years old.

Yet she is competing for the Foothill League Most Valuable Player prize in girls golf. She also shot an even-par 74 in September at the Ayala Tournament at Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills.

If that's not enough, the 5-foot-11 prodigy is already on Hart's varsity basketball team. She describes herself as a scrappy multi-position player.

It was 26 years ago that her mother, Samantha Ford-Dusenberry, was herself a prodigy.

Ford-Dusenberry set CIF records, struck out 373 batters, won 22 games, threw nine no-hitters and was named the Golden League MVP.

"Were you a left-handed pitcher?" Dusenberry asks her mother after a round of golf at Vista Valencia Golf Course. "Were you on varsity as a freshman?"

It's incredible that Dusenberry doesn't know much about her mother's pitching career - a span of time that included 71 wins and 1,124 strikeouts, a scholarship to UCLA and a spot on an episode of the TV show "That's Incredible."

"I've never seen her pitch," Dusenberry says.

Dusenberry doesn't play softball.

She stopped early.

Maybe because of comparisons that would be drawn.
"Sports is a lot of pressure anyway," the mother says. "To have that is a lot more pressure."

Though softball is in the daughter's blood, so are golf and basketball.

Her father, Todd, is now in his third season on the girls basketball coaching staff at Hart and has coached the sport for a number of years.

Golf, though, was her first love.

When she was four months old, Dusenberry was given a putter for Christmas.

It was a gift from her grandfather, Dennis Ford.

It can be said that Dusenberry is a member of Hart royalty because of her mother and grandfather.

Ford started the reign.

He was a legendary coach at Hart between 1970 and 2000, guiding softball, football and golf teams.

Over one span of 10 years, Ford's boys golf teams were 394-0-1.

"Dennis set a standard for high school golf," says Hart girls golf coach Renee Onori. "He had such a respect and love for the game. He brought that to the team and it translated to the way his players acted on and off the course and how they played."

Onori became the school's first-ever girls golf coach in 1999. She brought along Ford as an assistant.

It was during that season when she met a little girl named Kendall Dusenberry.

After Ford died of cancer in late 2003, Dusenberry gave Onori a plaque that once belonged to her grandfather.

It read:

"Coach Ford

Leader of Excellence

Again & Again

Hart Golf the Legend Continues."

It still hangs in Onori's classroom at Hart.

Nearly five years after Dusenberry presented the plaque to Onori, the pair crossed paths again.

Onori says there's a kind of "magic" about Dusenberry.

She sees a lot of Ford in his granddaughter.

She sees a love of the game.

Dusenberry, a stellar junior golfer before arriving at Hart, now helps form one of the greatest young golf teams this valley has ever seen.

Sophomores Amanda Corr, Nikki Prichard and Brenna Carlson threaten par every time out, sometimes achieving below-par scores.

It helps take the pressure off the freshman.

Also helping is the fact that all three athletes have their own interesting stories.

Corr's father was a former Hart golfer, and her cousin Nick Delio is one of the most successful prep golfers in this valley's history.

Carlson's brother was a Hart baseball star and is currently on scholarship at UC Santa Barbara. Her grandfather, Fran Wrage, was a longtime basketball coach at Hart.

Prichard's father played minor league baseball.
"I really like how everybody has the equal attention," says Prichard, who has known Dusenberry since early elementary school.

Prichard says having three solid golfers a year older than Dusenberry will also help the freshman in terms of her future after high school.

"Because she's a year younger, she'll be able to see what she's going to go through - what's coming and college," Prichard says. "She's already learned a lot from us, what last year was like."

Dusenberry is a big-hitting, solid-putting perfectionist on the golf course who has already garnered interest from universities.

As time goes on, like her mother, she'll likely receive more interest from the media, colleges and other athletes.
She's OK with it.

"As long as it doesn't affect how I'm doing," she says. "As long as it's not a distraction."

She's got her mother in her corner to help her along the way.

"I know about sports and competition," the mother says.
The mother then looks at her daughter and tells her: "I'm trying to give that to you."

It looks like she's got the competition part down.

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