Girls’ golf swings into first season


Kirk Dodson

Swing that club Jenna Williams swings her club at the ball golf ball. Williams expressed that she is glad there is a golf team this year for her and her teammates to grow on.

Myah Lear, Reporter

This year, the first girls’ golf team started, and the team is working toward competing in Districts this year.

Last year, senior Jenna Williams went to the school and asked for a girls’ golf team to be created.

“I started playing golf about two years ago, and when I realized I had a passion for it I wanted to try out for the golf team at Altoona,” Williams said. “When I realized we didn’t have one, I actually emailed Mr. Riccio first and then after realizing that it might be a possibility I reached out to some of the other girls who I thought would be interested. We went together to go from there. The initial move I did on my own.”

After the team was approved coaching staff needed to be hired and a schedule developed.

“I feel like I accomplished getting the team and giving other girls the opportunity to participate in golf, but I’ve also accomplished building myself up and getting better,” Williams said. “I’m definitely a lot better at golf than I was before the team started, which is why I wanted the team. It is really important to be involved in high school sports if you’re looking to play college sports or something similar to that.”

Other girls have expressed that they advanced their skills because of the new team.

“In competitions my score was a 62 and recreationally it was a 53, and I feel like that was a big accomplishment compared to before,” sophomore Megan McKee said.

The team’s head coach Joel Gilbert also feels like the girls have accomplished a lot considering it is the first year for the team.

“We knew that the other girls have played golf before, and we really haven’t had any experience. We were just looking to get a lower score each week, and I believe the girls did that,” Gilbert said. “I’m really happy about their progress. At the beginning of the year, our scores were very high and in golf you want to have a low score so we really did well.”

Gilbert feels that coaching the team has been a good experience.

“It’s exciting to coach them. It’s something new, and hopefully we can keep it going,” Gilbert said. “I’m just happy that the girls had an opportunity this year to play for a team. I think this is a rising sport in central Pennsylvania because there’s probably about six or seven teams now that actually have a girls program in our area, so I think that we were just getting on board with everybody else in the area.”

The team has faced struggles this year.

“We are just inconsistent. Some holes we will bogey and maybe even double bogey or something of that nature and then we’ll go on the next hole, and we’ll shoot a 10 or 12 or something like that and that’s hurting our scores a little bit. We’re just more inconsistent than who we are playing at that current time, so we are getting a high score on one hole and a low score on another hole. If we could become a little more consistent, I think we would be better,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert did a few things to help get the girls to work together better and trust each other.

“I just kind of made them play in separate groups, so they had to interact with other people within their team. They play a little bit faster that way too, so you have to team up with one another and get to know each other a little bit more. I think they gelled pretty well as a group,” Gilbert said.

The girls on the team have also been working towards getting along more and building trust between each other.

“Whenever I realized that there were other girls interested in golf, we went to practice on our own before the team even started,” Williams said. “We really wanted to have a head start, so I would say that we came together that way. As a senior, I thought it was really important to be a senior leader. Golf doesn’t really have captains, but I am the only senior, so I am looked up to in that way. I like to set good examples for the girls and do things like giving them rides and getting dinner or just doing small things to bring us closer together. Whenever we are on the course, I give motivational tips and just cheer them on.”

Because this is the first year with the team they are currently battling their lack of experience.

“We tackled the lack of experience through practice. We practiced as many days as we possibly could. Coach Dodson and I went ahead and we really worked with them and we talked to them about some of the things we wanted them to work on. It was a daily process, and it was nice to see them commit to getting better and I think that’s what it takes to be good at anything. You have to be able to be committed, and they were,” Gilbert said.

The team is happy about there being a girls golf team this year.

“It means a lot that there’s a girls golf team this year, especially since this is the first year that Altoona’s ever had one as far as I know. I think it’s really good to get the girls involved in sports like golf if they like it and who haven’t had a chance to do anything yet because there hasn’t been a golf team,” Williams said.

“I’m happy that there’s a girls’ team and that we don’t have to be a part of the boys’ team because there’s a lot more room to grow on an all girls’ team, and we can work toward a better goal,” McKee said.

Some of the girls expressed that they would like to continue playing golf in the future.

“As far as golfing in college, I would love to do that. Because of such a late start as a senior, I’m not sure I will meet the requirements of a college athlete, but I will certainly be playing golf for the rest of my life. With friends, family and even just going to hit up the driving range on my own occasionally. Golf is something that I will never give up,” Williams said.

The team has expressed being proud of themselves and the team.

“I am very proud of the team and myself. I’m proud of myself because I was able to get to Districts in the first and last year which took a lot of work,” Williams said. “I was not shooting a score that would be acceptable for Districts before I was on the school golf team but once the school golf team was made I was able to practice more and have more of a coaching atmosphere where I was able to get my score up…I am very proud of the team as a whole because some of the girls who are on the team had never golfed before and they are finally stepping up and realizing that this is for them too. I have seen improvement in every one of them and myself and I think that they’ll put a nice team together next year and all the years to come after that.”