The Libby High School golf boys and girls have their first play of the season at Columbia Falls on Wednesday, less than a week after official practices started on Thursday.
It’s still early in the season to say much definite about the team, said Head Coach Dann Rohrer. Yet, from the potential in his new players to the tried experience and leadership of his experienced players, he has good expectations for them all.
At practice Friday, experienced and novice players mixed it up out on the course, with senior Sammee Bradeen — with an all-conference last year and gunning for all-state this year — and junior Trey Thompson hitting the links with some players who had little or no previous golf experience.
Sophomore Kayley Svendsbye had made the decision only the day before to play golf this year, and Friday was her first time taking a swing outside of the driving range. Her brother, Alex — who was in the same five-some Friday morning — made her go to the driving range before, she said.
Her clubs that morning were some that an aunt had given to her, and she smiled at as she looked at them and said, “But, yeah, they’re mine now.”
Junior Alex Svendsbye is almost as new to golf as his sister, he said. His first experience was playing last summer with his grandfather.
Sophomore Keilen Rausch had played just football his freshman year, and decided he wanted to try something new this year. It has been hard to learn all the new things with a completely different sport, he admitted.
“But it seems like it’s going to be a lot of fun this year,” he said. “I’m having tons of fun.”
Though the group had to stop to allow other golfers to play through after the first hole, none of the new players seemed frustrated with their own progress, and neither Thompson nor Bradeen showed any signs of getting impatient.
“That’s a real strong emphasis in our program, and that is, we help each other,” Rohrer said.
Thompson said that he has been playing golf in some capacity most of his life, still he remembers the help he received as a new high school player from those such as senior Ryggs Johnston.
“And I just feel like I need to pass that on to the younger kids and newer kids,” he said.
Bradeen was brand new to golf in her junior year, she said. She didn’t have very high expectations for that first year, but she did have dedication.
Making all-conference and coming within four strokes of all-state in her first year was preceded by a season that saw her practicing sometimes twice in a day, every day, she said.
That example is one she said she wants to convey to the newer players.
“Golf is a game of consistency. If you can hit it straight 50 percent of the time, you’re doing good as a new player,” she said.
All three of the newer players agreed that they feel supported and helped by the more experienced players on the team, and that it adds to the enjoyment they are getting from playing.
“I think it’s really positive. They’re doing a pretty good job,” Alex Svendsbye said.
Bradeen said her main goal for this year is making all-state. But she is also looking forward to making new friends and meeting new people in her senior year.
“I made some great friends last year, and there are some really cool people that I golfed with,” she said.
For Thompson, the focus is not just the season, but improving every single time that he plays.
“I am looking forward to improving, and trying to improve my score every single week,” he said.
“The most important thing is they have fun — they have a good time — because that’s what this game is,” Rohrer said.
With the players he has, it’s not difficult to build a team atmosphere where players help each other and make play enjoyable, he said.
“We are blessed. The kids in Libby are great kids, they really are, in all the programs, I think,” he said.