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New start for La Canada

Spartans kick off program and will compete as a freelance team.

September 08, 2010|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

Now that La Cañada High has added a girls' golf team, the squad will be hoping to establish some chemistry while being competitive.

Rich Wheeler, La Cañada's junior varsity golf coach for the past five years and former football coach, has been named the team's head coach in its inaugural season. Richard Tetu, head boys' golf coach, will be the team's assistant coach.

"I am looking forward to the program having a girls' golf team. It will make the program bigger and better," Tetu said.

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The move was something that had been in the works for a few years, La Cañada Athletic Director Craig Franzen said.

"We had some ladies who were strongly competing at the boys' level, and this move was really needed," Wheeler said. "We have a lot of good talent starting out."

Fourteen girls showed interest in the team, and 12 have previous experience playing golf. With that much interest, the coaches said the program will retain all of the athletes this season.

"I don't like cutting kids because you never know how they're going to grow," Wheeler said. "I am taking the approach that I won't cut anyone; if you want to play, we are going to bring you along, if you'll have patience and work with us."

Although many local high schools — including South Pasadena, San Marino, Temple City, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and Muir — already have girls' golf teams, La Cañada won't compete in a league this year.

"We are going as an independent this year and look into putting together a Rio Hondo league [participation] next year," Wheeler said. "I don't think we will be hurting for any matches, though."

Jennifer Kim, who made a name for herself on the co-ed team by being the first female to qualify to play in the Rio Hondo League championship last season, figures to play a key role on the Spartans' squad.

As a freshman competing with the boys, she registered an 18-hole scoring average of 82 and made the All-Rio Hondo League second team.

"It's very exciting to have a girls' golf team for the first time," Kim said. "I think it's just better to have a team with all girls. I think it may bring us all closer."

The Spartans will be looking to establish more than team chemistry in their first year, though.

"We have a core of seven or eight girls with experience [on last year's co-ed team] right off the bat," Wheeler said. "We are going to see what we can come up with. Right now we think we'll be a very competitive team."

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