Alongside swimming, diving, cross country and tennis, high school golf finds itself among the first sports in California to return during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Santa Clara Bruins golf squad was co-ed in the spring in years past, but this year, six girls make up the first girls-only golf team.
Like football, normally girls golf would be a fall sport, so naturally, the girls on the team were more than ready to get their season going when given the green light by the state health department back in February. It had been a long time coming of distance learning without being able to interact with classmates and teammates.
“It’s been really nice to get out and take some time away from our screens,” admitted sophomore Erin Mizota. “We still have to do online learning right now, so it’s really nice to be able to see our friends, get some exercise and fresh air.”
“It’s been a huge relief, being in my room and just staring at my phone all day, it gets so boring,” acknowledged senior Samantha Reyes, who along with her sister Adriana, are brand new to golf. “So getting out there with that fresh air and doing something not so intense, but calming, I love it, it’s amazing.”
While high school golfers are required to wear their masks at all times, the girls don’t seem to find it any inconvenience.
“Honestly, it’s not that weird since we have been in COVID for so long,” noted Adriana Reyes. “My mask doesn’t get in the way either.”
The co-ed/boys golf season used to get in the way of the softball season. The Reyes sisters play softball in the spring and therefore, in previous years, they wouldn’t have been able to do both. But this year they were able to take their first swings and help grow the Bruins’ golf program, a program currently being led by sophomore Janna Andaya, who is already a scratch golfer.
“Before the school season, I had tournaments for Juniors Open in the summer of 2020,” noted Andaya. “So I started playing those again, but was happy to hear the Bruins golf team was opening up again, it gives me even more opportunities to practice.”
“[Janna] has a professional swing coach, so I’m pretty much more of a motivational person for her,” chuckled Bruins Head Coach Kevin Vannest. “Because I don’t want to mess her up.”
Thus far this season, the Bruins are 1-3 through four matches. Unfortunately, this season is shorter than usual. They will only be playing for about seven weeks instead of the normal 12-13 weeks. Vannest hopes the new girls will enjoy seeing their games improve, noting golf is a game they can play years into the future.
“Normally you’ll see a remarkable improvement and you’re just really hoping they come back the following year,” added Vannest. “When they graduate, it’s potentially something they can do forever.”