Even though it's still winter, it's golf season.
Montezuma County now has a girls high school golf team.
The Dolores School Board of Education voted to add girls golf to its high school athletic department last October.
Dolores' new sport has received good reception and interest so far.
"There were parents really active in wanting this program to evolve and the administration was really supportive," said Lady Bears coach Dee Wyman, who is volunteering.
A local physical therapist and Chicago native, Wyman has golfed with the local Conquistador Women's Golf Association team. She has trained and rehabilitated athletes, but has never coached golf.
Wyman is excited about her new endeavor.
"I thought this would be a great opportunity to volunteer and it's more my style. It gives you better leeway for starting a program," she said. "We're just starting out and trying to put together a group that can be competitive. We have eight girls confirmed and committed. I think that's a good turnout because it's so new. I think we'll see more girls joining in years to come. It's just getting more girls involved in golf for now."
Some girls are more experienced than others.
Kaitlyn Howerton played at 4A Montrose last season and lived in Dolores before moving to Montrose. When she relocated back to Dolores for her junior year, Howerton contemplated still playing golf at Montrose among other things. She was extremely thrilled her school added the sport.
"One of the bigger things that concerned me moving back to Dolores, was that they didn't have a girls golf team," said Howerton, whose been playing in tourneys since sixth-grade and began the sport when she was 3. "I was either going to join the (Montezuma-Cortez) boys team or I was going to make my own girls golf team. It's pretty awesome (that Dolores added the sport). I'm super excited!"
Freshman Kiseyla Plewe has been playing golf competitively since she was 7. Plewe, too, is happy and relieved Dolores added girls golf, so she wouldn't have to travel to play for Durango High's team.
"I was really excited, because I was going to have to drive to Durango every day for practice," said Plewe, whose older brother Hayden plays for the Montezuma-Cortez boys golf team. "It's just an opportunity for me to help get something started at the school. I'm really excited to play golf and be able to stay more local."
A starting five travels to season tournaments. Montezuma-Cortez senior Rachel Rime is vying for top-five with her long drive along with fellow senior Rachel Nelligan. Sophomores Mary Nelligan and Annika Strunce are strong contenders. Junior Kelly McClellan and freshman Keyana Matteson are in the thick of things as well.
Howerton and Plewe will provide much needed leadership for the Lady Bears. Both golfers hope to eventually play in college and each have major goals in mind this season.
"It's getting out here and knocking 10 points off my swing," Howerton said. "I think my senior year will be the year I really kick in, though, and go for those scholarships."
"I have some really high standards for myself," she said. "I really want to go to state this year. I really just want to do my best and hopefully, make an all-conference team."
The first tourney is March 25-26, at Montrose's Cobble Creek Golf Course. Dolores will cohost a tourney with Durango on April, 15-16. The first day is in Durango and the second day is at Conquistador Golf Course.
Tourneys will also be in Monticello, Utah, and in New Mexico at Kirtland and Farmington. The 4A regionals are at Carbondale in May. There are only two classifications of 4A and 5A in Colorado high school girls golf.
Wyman is assisted by Sue Garlick.