Nine Suburban Council schools will be fielding girls' golf teams in the fall of the 2019-20 school year.
The league's athletic directors met Thursday to finalize details of what will be Section II's first all-female golf offering. Mixed competition will continue at other schools that have golf teams.
"A lot of people have been advocates of this for a long time. It's happening," said Shaker athletic director Matt Stein, a prime mover in the creation of the new league. "Today we finalized our procedures for matches. We approved the schedule. We finalized the list of teams that are officially instituting [girls'] golf."
Bethlehem, Ballston Spa, Colonie, Columbia, Guilderland, Niskayuna, Saratoga Springs, Shaker and Shenendehowa will field girls' golf teams in the fall. Longtime Shaker physical education teacher and Suburban Council girls' golf coordinator Mike Cavotta said the Northeastern New York PGA is in full support of the new circuit.
"There was a massive effort from a lot of people to make this happen," said Cavotta, who coaches the Shaker boys' golf team. "The focus is to grow the game."
Ben Smith, who will coach both the boys' and girls' teams at Niskayuna, said it is important to get the word out there that girls will now have this option available. As part of the move from mixed to all-girl play, girls will tee off from shorter distances.
"We need to grow the game, and this is the best way to do it," said Smith, a physical education teacher at Van Antwerp Middle School. "Our victories will be getting more names on rosters. The idea is to get enough girls to make this work."
Section II Executive Director Ed Dopp said he supports the new league and is hopeful that, in time, all-girls' golf expands beyond the Suburban Council.
"The big thing is recruiting at the schools," Dopp said. "It's the next hurdle. The coaches are doing it, and Eileen Troy [Section II girls' golf coordinator] is working hard at this."
Girls' matches will coincide with boys' matches as a travel cost-saving measure, and, as another cost-saving move, coaches from seven of the nine schools involved will be in charge of both the girls and boys during practices and matches. Shaker and Shenendehowa had girls' golf coaching positions put into their school budgets.
"We didn't think it would be as high as nine [schools], but we were pretty confident we would have a solid five or six playing in the fall, so it was, 'Let's see if we could get budget support,'" Stein said.
Dopp said 10 teams representing two leagues are needed in order to hold a sectional event at the end of a season. He also said at this time no qualifying event for the state girls' golf tournament has been planned.