SHERIDAN — It’s easy to view the sport of golf as a leisure activity. The sun shines, players laugh amongst one another and the heart rate rarely elevates.
Sheridan High School first-year head coach Kaelee Saner wants to eliminate that notion. She wants the Broncs to throw all of their efforts toward the game of golf in an effort to improve in practice and contend in tournaments.
“The biggest thing that we are kind of trying to focus on as a whole coaching staff is just having the kids commit a little bit more to what they’re doing,” Saner said. “We want it to be more like a varsity sport rather than just, ‘I’m going out to play golf or I’m with my friends playing.’ We kind of talked about that you wouldn’t do that on the football field or the basketball court.
“We just want a little bit more commitment and taking it seriously.”
Saner takes over the Sheridan golf program after Larry Martoligo, who coached the team for 14 years, retired. In the last decade, the Broncs claimed more state titles at the 4A level than any other team in Wyoming.
Martologio remains with the program, albeit in a smaller role, and while Saner doesn’t want to change too much, she’s already begun to put her stamp on the program with a couple small changes.
“I’m just tweaking the structure of practice a little bit,” Saner said. “… I’ve been putting more emphasis on chipping and putting, and they’re not used to that, and less time on the range. But they’re taking that change and going with it in stride.”
Saner played collegiate golf at the University of Wyoming a few years ago and hopes some of her lessons learned at the next level can help elevate some of her players’ golf games.
Last year’s standout Kirby Coe-Kirham, who will play golf at Saner’s alma mater this fall, left some big shoes to fill — ones that young Brayden James hopes to fill.
“It’s definitely weird not having [Coe-Kirkham] out here,” James said. “… He was a great leader. I think he taught me, and a lot off us, a lot of stuff, so hopefully we can try and carry on his leadership. And I still think we have great team chemistry.”
Brothers Alex and Sean Sanders, along with Nolan Billings, will also look to consistently contend for the top four scoring spots on the team come this fall.
The Sanderses are not the only siblings within Sheridan’s golf program.
Brayden James’ sister, Abby, spearheads the Lady Broncs’ efforts this fall. James carries with her quite a bit more experience than her bother and has more immediate goals of elevating her game in hopes of finding a collegiate golf home next fall. James has enjoyed the slight alterations in the practice regimen— citing her chipping as one of the weaker portions of her game — and has high hopes for her final season as a Lady Bronc. “I definitely want to try and win state,” James said. “I’m working for that, and I think my goal, scoring wise for the season, would probably be a 76.” She and the rest of Sheridan’s roster won’t have too much time to hone their skills with the state tournament teeing off in mid September. But they’ll try, remaining 100 percent committed under their new head coach every step of the way.