VOORHEESVILLE — So many things never seen before, including teams put on hold and waiting for their chance to compete, are a part of the Section II sports landscape this fall season.
A bunch of ambitious girls from Saratoga Central Catholic can relate to both.
They formulated a plan to play volleyball as well as golf, on the Saints’ newest team, and ended up doing only the latter in a fall campaign that will serve as a building block for those to come.
“It’s been so much fun getting out on the course with our coach, playing with friends and meeting new people, and doing something you’re passionate about,” Saratoga Central Catholic junior Ella Constantino said Tuesday before the Saints’ final golf match of the season against Albany Academy at Colonie Country Club.
Six juniors on the seven-member first-year team also play volleyball, and their plan to double up this fall was devised months ago.
“When we found out about the possibility of doing both, there was no COVID,” Constantino said.
The Wasaren League, of which Saratoga Catholic is a member, opted to call off fall sports in mid-September due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the league is pointing toward the “Fall II” season that is slated to begin in March to conduct its sports. The Saratoga Central Catholic girls’ golf team is the lone exception.
“We were disappointed when we couldn’t do volleyball, but we still had the option to do a sport,” Saints junior Isabelle Sondhof said. “We decided we’ll start something different. We thought it [golf] would be a great way to be safe, do a sport and have fun.”
None of the seven girls, including freshman Clara Goffioul, had played school golf before this fall.
“We were determined to do it,” Constantino said. “We wanted to go out and prove ourselves.”
Saratoga Central Catholic’s inclusion is just another piece of a growing girls’ golf movement in Section II.
“It’s really cool to see a new team join the fold,” Albany Academy coach Sarah Adamowski said. “And to come out of the gate with seven girls, that’s exciting.”
Section II schools that have girls’ golf teams traditionally compete in the fall.
“If we didn’t play now, we wouldn’t have a season,” Saratoga Central Catholic athletic director Phonsey Lambert said. “We got the blessing of the league superintendents to play with the understanding that we cannot play in the spring. I went out and made a few phone calls to put together a schedule.”
Saratoga Central Catholic played Holy Names and Queensbury twice each, and Saratoga Springs and Broadalbin-Perth once each, before Tuesday’s season-ending match with Albany Academy.
“My girls are pretty new to the game, but I really like their energy and enthusiasm,” said Saratoga Central Catholic golf coach Dale Long, who also directs the boys’ team. “They are like blank slates. You show them something and they are anxious to try it. The more they get out there the better they’ll be at it.”
“They’re really into it,” Lambert said.
Saratoga Central Catholic has had several girls play golf before, and some took on prominent roles.
“We’ve always had a successful golf team that involved girls,” said Lambert. “The three sectional titles we won in boys’ golf [from 2013-15], we had two or three girls in our top six.”
Tuesday’s match pitted the inexperienced Saints against a Bears cast that won the first girls’ Section II team title last fall and features Kennedy Sedick, Nicole Criscone and Samantha Vob Rohr, who went 1-2-3 at that inaugural area championship.
“I told my girls to enjoy the country club and watch the girls from Albany Academy,” Long said. “’You can learn from them.’”
“We want to learn from them,” Sondhof said before heading to the first tee. “Let’s see how they can make us better. We want to learn from the experience.”
Long said the girls will have an opportunity to further their learning in the coming months.
“We’re going to work over the winter,” the veteran mentor said. “We have an indoor facility, and I’ve already signed the girls up for lessons.”
“We’re going to keep practicing so in our senior year we can do some winning,” Sondhof said. “A big thing in golf is if you don’t keep practicing, you go back to where you started.”
Constantino said the goal to play two fall sports in 2021 remains for the Saints’ juniors.
“We’re going to balance it all out,” she said. “Golf, volleyball and academics.”