Steamboat Springs Paul Berry likely will be the No. 1 golfer heading into the Steamboat Springs high school season, but he's just a freshman waiting for the upperclassmen to pull some stunt.
Through a week of practice -- all that's allowed before the start of the official season -- Berry hasn't carried any bags or been told to. But he's spent most of his golfing life focused on his individual results, so it's a little refreshing and even enjoyable to finally be a part of a team, even if he's the rookie, he said.
Berry will be one of several golfers called upon to step up and consistently fire low rounds during the 2003 varsity season. He is an experienced tournament player who is familiar with many of his future prep opponents after teeing off against them this summer.
But Berry won't be the only golfer the Sailors will count on. New coach Ryan Barclay said this year's team is deeper overall than last year's team.
Cody Sherrill and Jeff Franks have graduated, but a host of players are back after a summer spent taking their game to the next level.
Kenton Gamache and Ryan Brees return from last year's team, which finished second in the state, and both juniors have proven they can fire low rounds, Barclay said.
Other players, such as Tucker Smalley and Eric Vanderbloemen, have varsity experience, as well.
"I know that more is expected of me this year," Brees said. "As a sophomore and freshman I wasn't counted on, but I know (Barclay) is relying on me to play better."
Brees and Smalley started playing golf this spring before the snow melted in Steamboat. They traveled across the state on their own time, taking tee times on courses that were playable, looking to improve all facets of their game.
"A lot of the varsity, or the top eight or nine guys have been playing a lot of different events in state or around the country this summer," Barclay said.
In other words, the golf season officially started for many of Steamboat's top players several months ago. The high school season, though just under way, signals more of an end than a beginning.
The Sailors open the season on Monday with a tournament at Bookcliff in Grand Junction. Steamboat's golf team will have completed five tournaments before the first day of school on Aug. 25. On the first day of school, the team has a tournament in Fruita.
The Sailors' lone home tournament is on Sept. 3 at Haymaker.
Last season, Steamboat didn't play consistent golf as a team until the regional and state tournaments, Brees said. This year, the group hopes to remain more consistent before traveling to regionals in Montrose on Sept. 16 and 17.
With almost 40 golfers playing this year, Barclay said it's be impossible for everyone to travel. The top 20 golfers will be a part of the varsity and junior varsity squads, and the remainder will be on the developmental team. The 20 members of the varsity and JV teams will remain the same all season, but the varsity roster could change before each tournament depending on each player's current performance.
Luke Brosterhous and Troy Weller will serve as Barclay's assistants for the 2003 season. Brosterhous works at the Catamount, while Weller is employed at the Sheraton. They will help Barclay in his new plan to pull five to 10 players aside at each practice and do just that -- practice-- rather than simply send the boys out to play rounds.
Barclay admits drastic changes will be hard to make in several days of practice, but each coach wants to help the players improve as much as they can and get the most of out of the high school season as possible.