Golf: The team may be young, but they are not green

The golf team this year is young, with a large number of freshman and 8th graders, according to head coach Jack Rice.

“They may be young, but they are very good. Many of them have been playing for years,” Rice said. “They are not raw beginners.”

The team has 13 boys and four girls, none of whom are seniors, although four are juniors.

Rice has been coaching the team for decades, and while he keeps thinking it’s time to retire, he has fun with the students.

“These kids keep me going,” he said.

Although the primary goal is getting as many members of the team to the state tournament as possible, he enjoys and is looking forward to seeing each one improve their game throughout the season.

“I struggle every year to find the best way to help them get really good at the sport as fast as possible,” Rice said. It usually comes down to dedication. If the student is dedicated they can excel at the game fairly quickly, he explained.

As far as making it to state, Rice is optimistic.

“We have a good chance, we have a good strong team,” he said, adding that he is particularly excited about the girl’s team, it is one of the best he has seen in years.

Sophomore Morgan Douglas went to district last year, and junior Janna Rajczi went to tri-district, both of them have returned. Eighth-grader Akira Tokunaga has played for five years, and Rice said she is coming on strong already this season.

On the boys team, eighth graders Sam Herda, PJ Nixon, and Dylan Lawson already have their swings down having played golf with their dads all these years, according to Rice.

Sophomore Fisher Goosman is not only an avid golfer but a world-class skier, who just returned from competing in the Alaska Freeride Open.

“I’m just glad he didn’t break any bones,” Rice laughed.

Freshmen Finn Graham, Jack Hess, and junior Ryan Rautengerg, all went to district last year, so Rice is excited to see what lies ahead for them this season.

Rice also thanked the San Juan Golf and Country Club for their support over the years. “We could not have this program without them. I can’t thank them enough. The maintenance crew, all of them have always gone out of their way to do what they can to help these kids.”

He also thanked the Golf and Tennis Foundation which helped buy t-shirts for the entire golf and tennis teams, and the parents who have rallied behind the team as well.

Their first home tournament takes place March 24 against Lopez.