Profile: Pioneer’s Jillian Giordano brings her smile and experience into Friday’s state finals

Jillian Giordano always carries with her certain things out on the golf course. She always has plenty of golf balls – not that she needs many. She has her clubs cleaned and ready to go. And she has the usual other things close at hand – including a towel to clean off the clubs, a beverage to stay hydrated and a scorecard so she can keep track of all those pars and birdies.

But one thing Giordano never leaves in the car when she’s about to play a round of golf for the Pioneer varsity team is her smile. She always seems to be smiling when playing the game she loves – and as many know, golf has the power to wipe off anyone’s smile.

Not Giordano. Good scores are nice. Great scores are better. But just playing the game of golf on a sunny day will do just fine for this talented senior golfer.

“My favorite part about golf is my team,” she says. “We are all pretty close and enjoy playing with each other. Everyone on our team is pretty positive and hardworking. I’ve watched most of these players improve so much over the years and they’ve definitely put in the work to further their game. Our team gets along very well and though we tease each other it’s all in good fun.”

The fun has turned somewhat serious this week as the Pioneers focus on the State Finals on Friday at Forest Akers East in Lansing. They finished third at the Regional last week, behind the top two ranked teams in the state Plymouth and Northville.

But the Pioneers believe they have a shot to win it all if they hit enough good shots on Friday. And amongst the cheering section is Giordano who believes the Pioneers have enough in the bag to land in the top spot.

“Our team goal is to place in the top three at States which I definitely believe can happen,” she says. “As a team we have to put in the time and practice. We just need to go out and play with confidence. As a player, I think I just need to keep it simple and believe in my abilities. I’ve personally found that I play better when I relax and play without overthinking every shot or hole.”

Giordano, who began playing golf when she was 8, has been a member of Pioneer’s state team the past two seasons. She is a team captain this season and was nominated for the SEC Athletic Leadership Conference. She also shot an 87 at the SEC league tournament and was one of four Pioneers named to the First Team All-SEC Team.

She says her greatest strength on the golf course is her driving and mental mindset.

“I’ve improved my driving so much this season from the help of my coaches and I now am a lot more mentally tough than I was in past seasons,” says Giordano, who takes lessons and advice from Pioneer Coach Bill Lyle and PGA Teaching Pro Paul Haase at the Kendall Academy of Golf. “I need to improve on my confidence on the course. I’ve shown that I can post a good score and have the ability to do so but become skeptical of my skills while playing.”

The daughter of Tom and Georgette Giordano, Jillian also puts up good scores in the classroom where her scorecard currently reads 3.9, which is way above par.

“School for me is going about as well as it can be,” she says. “I’ve definitely struggled with not being able to see my friends and classmates in person but having an extracurricular activity like golf has been so great.”

This Friday’s round at Forest Akers might just be her final time playing competitive golf. She’s certainly not hanging up the clubs but she’s ready to move on to other challenges.

“I don’t plan on continuing with golf in college but I love that it’s a lifelong sport that I can just pick up again in the future,” she says.