The Crimson woman's golf team is the baby of the Harvard athletic department. A year-and-a-half ago, thanks to the efforts of persistent students, the golf team became a full fledge member of Harvard's athletic arsenal.
Those students have graduated, but the team remains intact. The Crimson survived its first full year of competition with some impressive results, all things considered.
"Last year, we ended up in the middle of the Ivies," coach Warren Smith says.
"The middle of the Ivies" is an off year for the hockey squad, but for a new golf program it was a sign of good times to come.
Smith expects to build on last year's positives and move Harvard towards the day when it can compete with the elite of the ECACs.
"It will be a couple of years before we can really complete at the top level," Smith says. "But things are already beginning to improve.
"This past year we have had 15 or more inquiries from high school players about our program. It is just a matter of going out and doing a little recruiting."
One advantage Smith has is the nature of the sport. Unlike football or hockey, where a team constantly needs to replenish its talent with a handful of top recruits, in golf it only takes one or two a year.
In a given tournament five players shoot round with the top four scores counting in the team competition. Consequently, one or two top players can really turn a team around.
Of course, all this having been said, Smith and the Crimson squad are not merely looking to the future with rose-colored glasses. The young team will show signs of inexperience this season and will need time to grow before it can become the sort of ECAC contender Smith envisions.
Leading the way for the Crimson will be sophomore captain Alexis Boyle. Last year, as a freshman, she was the Crimson's most consistent golfer.
"At this point, Alexis is definitely our top golfer," Smith says. "She consistently shoots in the 70s and low 80s."
Supporting Boyle will be varsity returners Emile Kao, senior, and Madge Roberts, junior. With one more year of experience and a summer of practice behind them both should be ready to make significant contributions.
Perhaps the most important factor for the team's success, however, will be the arrival of freshman Susan Renere.
As a senior in high school last year she was voted the top junior player in Massachusetts. Recently, she won the championship at the Oakley Country Club, a feat that did not fail to impress her new coach in Cambridge.
Renere's arrival is all the more significant considering the departure of senior Rosie Stovell. Stovell, who is also the captain of the women's squash team, recently informed coach Smith that she can no longer juggle two sports and academics.
Nonetheless, if Renere turns out to be a top performer, she and Boyle could make for a imposing one-two punch. If the other returners continue to improve, the Crimson will be a competitive squad.
The team will experience some growing pains--Coach Smith knows he does not have the top team in the ECACs.
But, as is expected of this enthusiastic coach (he offered this reporter golf lessons any time this winter), he is happy with the team's progress to date.
"I think we will be much improved this year," Smith says. "I am very excited about the coming season."