Young Northwest golfers set to make their impact
The 2006 Shawnee Mission Northwest girls golf team will be one of the youngest in the Sunflower League this season, sporting just one senior and a combined nine sophomores and freshmen.
With that kind of youth, new head coach John Reiff is looking forward to a season full of discovery.
"It's going to be interesting being my first year," said Reiff who takes over for Rich Wiley after serving as the junior varsity coach last year. "There are two sophomores who are returning who are returning letter winners so they have some experience. It's going to be hard to say until we actually play."
One thing Reiff has been able to see from the early practices has been the emergence of a few team leaders who the Cougars will count on to set the pace on the course. Besides senior Emily Norris, Reiff is counting on sophomores Emily Newman and Rachel Noland.
Newman, who has been parring holes regularly in practice, will likely be joined by freshman Cassie Perkins at the top of the Cougars' leaderboard during competition.
Perkins, a long hitter off the tee, has gained her coach's admiration for her ability to "grip it and rip it."
"I'm excited about her game," Reiff said. "Now it's a matter of how she plays. What will she do in a high school tournament? But she can drive the ball."
After two weeks of preparation Perkins and the rest of the team will begin their season on Wednesday, Aug. 31, with a nine-hole shootout against Olathe North at Burning Tree Golf Course in De Soto.
For Reiff, that outing will be an indicator of not only how his team is playing, but how the rest of the Sunflower League stacks up. But Reiff knows that making predictions in golf can be a tricky business.
"Those nine holes at Burning Tree will show us a lot," Reiff said, "but it's a little different sport than, say, basketball. In golf someone can come right in as a freshman and be state champion."
For now, Reiff is having his team focus on the basics, including the most fundamental step in golf -- getting off that first shot.
"One of our goals this season is that it's so important just to get off the tee and put that first shot in good position," Reiff said. "But these girls are getting better as they go along. They have some opportunities to go out and play and, with golf, you need more time on the course and playing with others to get better.
"Hopefully, with some success, the girls will want to do that. There's no substitute for getting out on the course and playing."