With a strong season and a third place title at state, this is the best the girls’ golf team has done in head coach Ermanno Ritschl’s 14 years at East. But with four seniors leaving the team, Ritschl is uncertain about the team’s future.
“It will definitely have an impact with the four of them leaving, because right now I am not sure how many girls are coming in as freshmen,” Ritschl said. “We do have a good group of returning players, but it is tough to replace four varsity members. We are having a good core that is coming back.”
So far, it has been tough finding players to replace the hole––not a single girl signed up at the eighth grade orientation on April 18. According to senior Sarah Genton, this was her favorite year on the team, and they are really hoping that the team “reels in more underclassmen.”
Fortunately, they already have a few promising underclassmen returning. Ritschl thinks that they have probably one of the best golfers in the state in Anne Willman, and will need to have other players step up to the leadership positions.
“We are losing the experience and the varsity players that are going to be hard to replace right off the bat,” Ritschl said. “We are losing some leadership, so those are some tangibles that make up a good team. It takes a big chunk of our team potency, if you will, but we have been here before and hope to just do better with the incoming players or improve.”
With no incoming seniors on the team, Willman is ready to step up to the challenge as the leader.
“Next year, we will not have any seniors so I think I am forced to step up,” Willman said. “But with the help of [freshman] Jessica [Young], we can lead the team next year by making the girls less nervous. Also, to have them not worry about tournaments as well.”
The girls on the team are going to work on their short game to improve and make up for the seniors leaving, according to Ritschl. They are going to work on putting and “build team core” that should compete with the rest of the teams.
“It is hard because we are going to be losing a lot of experience,” Young said. “It’s going to be really sad with them leaving, because everyone really looked up to them and they made everything fun.”
The girls will be focusing on consistency of scores during the summer. Also, the girls will need to participate in many tournaments during the summer season rather than weekend golf because that is “a completely different ball game.”
“There is no substitute for practice and playing golf,” Ritschl said. “The high school season is very short, consisting of less than eight weeks, and is a showcase of their talents. You cannot come in with nothing and expect to play in tournaments––and expect to play well.”
After being the support behind the top three this past season, Young knows that she must step up with the other girls in order to improve the team.
“Without the seniors, it’s going to be different because Anne and I spent the whole year practicing and playing tournaments with them and we all became really good friends,” Young said. “They always helped me forget about my bad days and just laugh it off.”
According to senior Drew Auer, this year was the most fun out of the years she has been playing and she has enjoyed the bond between her teammates.
“I am excited to see the younger girls rise up and make the team really good,” Auer said. “It was such a fun year, because you get a different kind of relationship with the girls and see them in a different light when you spend the night with them.”
Having had a great season and gone to state, the team will greatly miss their seniors. A main reason being that they were the ones that the younger girls looked to for help and delivered motivation for all tournaments.
“Being together and practicing I will really miss because we all became so close,” Genton said. “I hope the girls from last year return and that other girls will see how fun it is and join.”