New Berlin — After years of discussion and months of planning, the time was right for New Berlin to launch a high school girls golf team this fall.
On Aug. 16, coach Samantha Forster and 13 girls started practice, and the new team was born.
"I was really happy with the turnout," Forster said. "The girls were all excited and having a lot of fun. They wanted to do something new."
Girls golf had been discussed in New Berlin for years, with some parents and students pushing to get a team going.
"Last year (2009-10) was my first year of teaching English at West," Forster said, "and I had been asking about (a golf team). The next thing I knew, we were starting a team. I found out about it last spring at a district meeting."
Yet another option
Eisenhower athletic director Jeff Gabrielsen is pleased to see the program come to fruition.
"Our district's philosophy is to get as many kids involved as possible," he said. "We took an interest survey and found enough kids to start a co-op team this year. We also were able to get the right group of kids (for enthusiasm and desire). Things worked out real well."
Gabrielsen is also pleased that the creation of the golf team did not hurt any other fall sports program because most of the players were not planning to try out for another team.
The players are happy to have the opportunity to help initiate the program.
"It's exciting to be part of it," said freshman Natalie Gagliano of Eisenhower. "It is an honor to have made it, since my parents (Tom and Dawn) have been trying to get a team started for years. They got some other parents interested, and everybody pitched in and got it going."
Junior Bailey Meyer, also of Eisenhower, said "I'm very excited that New Berlin was finally able to get a girls golf team together this year. I am thankful that I have the chance to play, because I didn't think it was going to happen."
Pieces fell together
The decision to hire Forster as the coach was an easy one, Gabrielsen said, because she had extensive playing experience. She was on the golf team at Appleton North High School and played for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"I met her last year," Gabrielsen said. "We talked about (her being the golf coach). Given her experience, it was a no-brainer to hire her. She has the experience and the desire to do it."
The next step was finding a conference home for the team, as the Woodland has no girls golf programs.
"We pursued the North Shore, the Greater Metro and the Classic 8," Gabrielsen said. "The Classic 8 courses were extremely travel-friendly for us. As far as locations, this was the most favorable."
Team building experience
So far, New Berlin has played in two Classic 8 mini-meets, finishing seventh in the first at Rainbow Springs and moving up to sixth with 229 strokes in last week's event at Muskego Lakes, beating Pius XI. Gagliano led the way with a 47, followed by sophomore Minhi Kang at 52 and Meyer with 56.
Besides the Classic 8 minis, the team will also compete in the Beaver Dam Invitational at Old Hickory Country Club on Sept. 11 and in another invite in Waukesha on Sept. 15.
Forster said the girls have a wide range of playing experience, but the goal for everyone is the same.
"We just hope the girls enjoy themselves and improve," she said. "We want them to feel good about how they are playing."
Gagliano added that "We want to do well as a team, make our place and get things started. We want every golfer to feel comfortable."
Meyer said this team is also laying a foundation for years to come.
"I hope to help promote girls golf, so there will be continued interest in the sport," she said.
NEW BERLIN PIONEERS
The roster for the first New Berlin girls golf team:
SENIOR: West's Hailey Kunz
JUNIORS: Eisenhower's Shawna Rickard, Alex Zubke, Bailey Meyer and Lauren Tranchita
SOPHOMORES: Eisenhower's Anna David, Catherine Michaletz, Stephanie Seymour and Minhi Kang
FRESHMEN: Eisenhower's Taylor Rickard and Natalie Gagliano; West's Alexius Johnson and Megan Vossekuil
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