Steamboat’s girl golfers aim to support each other on road to regionals |

Steamboat’s girl golfers aim to support each other on road to regionals

The Steamboat Springs girls golf team poses for a team photo on Friday, March 6.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Spring sports have the toughest schedule and the worst first few weeks, both because of snow. The Steamboat Springs High School girls golf team might suffer more than most. 

In order to practice or play soccer, one field has to be plowed. For golf, it’s much more difficult. An entire 18 holes has to be cleared of snow, which facilities usually leave for Mother Nature to do away with.

With no nearby golf course to work on, the Sailors girls golf team started practicing one week ahead of their first competition on Monday, March 9, in Grand Junction. 

The Sailors train at head coach Shannon Hanley’s golf studio, as well as on turf laid in the old gym at the high school, where they shoot cork golf balls. As per her team’s request, Hanley acquired nets that allow the girls to hit real golf balls indoors.

“They felt it would be more realistic if they had real golf balls,” said Hanley. “We raised a lot of money through our booster club to be able to buy a couple nets, so they’ll be able to hit real balls into the nets, which I think will be a big improvement from this year.”

The team is nine-women strong, composed of eight juniors and a sophomore, many of which played last year. There is one golfer on the team that is completely new to the sport, while Rylee Moore has been with the team for three years.

Moore said she wants to be more consistent this year and improve on her ability to control which direction the ball goes. 

Steamboat Springs sophomore Sophia Gowdy swings at a golf ball at practice on Tuesday, April 9, at Gardner Field.
Leah Vann

Ryley Seibel, one of the team’s captains, said her goals for her third year of competition include bettering her game overall, practicing a lot and dedicating more of her time to the team.

Starting at Chipeta golf course on Monday, the Sailor girls will compete in primarily scrambles. A scramble puts two or more players on a team. Each member tees off, then everyone moves their ball to the ball with the best placement and repeats the process until the hole is reached. 

While the girls admit they are frustrated with the early-spring training, they all love competing in scrambles.

“It’s not as pressured as when you’re playing your own ball,” said Moore. “Half the time, somebody’s going to have a good hit out of how many people are in the scramble. It’s a lot less pressure and a lot less frustrating.”

“It’s really just having fun,” she added.

Having fun is one of, if not the biggest focus of the team. They also strive to lift each other up. They draw names at the beginning of the season, assigning everyone a teammate to empower throughout the season, like texting each other good luck before a test. Seibel said that practice brings the team together. 

“I feel like when we go places we feel more comfortable and perform better,” she said. “I think being comfortable with each other and building those connections and friendships is a big factor.”

Swinging and putting isn’t the only thing the girls practice. Hanley believes in giving the girls life skills, not just golf skill. 

“We incorporate yoga,” she said. “We’re gonna do the same thing we did last year, go to Natural Grocers and learn about the importance of hydration and nutrition.”

Ideally, the team will be close-knit and playing their best golf come regionals, which junior Jojo Vertrees wants her team to attend. 

“It’ll take a lot of work,” she said. “Teamwork and mentally keeping myself accountable.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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