Lynn Winsor was fed up with the negative atmosphere in her 15-passenger van full of a defeated, saddened golfers on her Xavier Prep team one evening in the early 80s. So the golf coach pulled over, slammed into park, whipped around and told her team, "God would not be happy with us."
Then Winsor shifted the van back into drive, and that was the end of that.
"I promise you, we all behaved a lot better after that," recalls Missy Farr-Kaye, a member of that team and now the highly successful head coach for the Arizona State.
That story still resonates for her former players and Winsor more than 30 years later. It teaches two lessons -- Winsor does not tolerate unsportsmanlike conduct and she does not like to lose -- and shows why she is running what might be the nation's most dominant high school sports program.
In her 43 years coaching at the private Catholic high school, Winsor has collected 34 Arizona state championships, including 18 in the past 19 years.
Did we mention that Winsor is a nun?
"When you go to a Christian school or a Catholic school, you're expected to be honest, to have all the integrity in the world and have good sportsmanship," said Winsor, better known around campus as Sister Lynn.
Farr-Kaye said Winsor's coaching style always made her want to be a better person. In addition to Farr-Kaye, Winsor has coached an impressive list of golfers including Amanda Blumenherst, a U.S. Women's Amateur winner; Hannah O'Sullivan, the youngest-ever winner on the Symetra Tour; Cheyenne Woods, recent LPGA card holder and niece of Tiger Woods; Symetra Tour competitor Kimberly Kim; Farr-Kaye's late sister Heather Farr and Filippa McDougall, the director of golf at the Phoenix-area Camelback Golf Club.
"[Winsor] is very direct, she's very fair and she's very straightforward," McDougall said. "Everything she does comes out of a place of love and I think that's some of what makes her so successful."
McDougall, who played at Xavier from 1991-95, has made it a tradition for her Camelback Golf Club to be always available for the team to play -- at no cost. Many of the girls come to Camelback Golf Club for their weekend round. Winsor's team practices four days a week and each team member is required to play one round each weekend during the season. They turn that scorecard into their coach on Mondays.
But no matter where they play over the weekend, they practice with a "state or bust" mentality.
"That's the goal of the whole season, to get to state," Winsor said. ”And when you get to state, the goal is to play really well."
In early November, the team solidly overcame a day-one deficit along with a weather delay to win its 34th state title by 16 strokes.
On a typical match day, the Xavier girls are the first ones on the golf course, lined up at the range by 6:15 a.m. Winsor said she expects her team to be focused, yet approachable.
"You're on the course, you're serious about it and you're playing," Winsor said. "But also when you're in a foursome with kids you don't know, you should be friendly and you should be helpful."
Winsor doesn't just empower the girls on her golf team, but she also acts as a role model for 1,200 young women through her role as Xavier's athletic director.
She makes sure to attend all the Xavier athletics events and is a familiar face around campus. "Everybody knows her," Farr-Kaye said. NCAA golf teams are also familiar with Winsor and her powerhouse golf program.
"College coaches call us because they know our girls are good students, good people, they're people of faith and they know the rules," Winsor said. "It's all about excellence, faith, academics, athletics and personal behavior."
Winsor supports her girls on and off the course by checking in on their grades and talking to them individually about life topics, such as where they want to go to college. She remains so close to Farr-Kaye, that she was in the hospital with her two years ago when Farr-Kaye's father passed away.
"If you call her she'll be there in a heartbeat, and if she calls you, you say, ‘Yes Sister Lynn, what can I do for you?'" Farr-Kaye said. "She is one of the rarest and most amazing people I know."
Winsor's loyalty is the same for her school, and her only plan as of now is to collect more state titles.
"I've been coaching this team for 43 years and it doesn't get old," Winsor said. "I'm loving my job and the day I don't like it, then I'll be gone."