The program may be new but expectations will be high for Colorado-Colorado Springs women's golf.
"I'm not here to lose," said coach Sadie Farnsworth, a former Colorado Mesa standout and Mavericks record holder. "I'm going to push these girls to be the best golfers they can be."
The Mountain Lions make their debut Saturday and Sunday at the first Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament at Desert Hawk Golf Course in Pueblo West. They enter the season picked to finish 10th out of 10 teams, just behind the new Metro State program, in the NCAA Division II league. CSU-Pueblo is picked to win the league.
"We can go out and make a statement," Farnsworth said.
That preseason poll will motivate the team, said UCCS senior Laura Gritz, a former PGA golf management major.
"I think we have the players to do well," the former Rock Canyon High School player said. "We have some good talent coming in and people at the school who are capable."
The coach will find out a lot about her players this weekend.
"I'll get to see how they manage the pressure of a college tournament," she said. "It is much different from high school. The best college golfers all play with confidence and attitude. I can't wait to see how they do."
Farnsworth, hired May 29, is playing catch-up in the recruiting battles. She spent the morning before a recent practice at a junior tournament at The Broadmoor Hotel.
"It's really exciting," Farnsworth said "I get to build the program my way. Over the next few years I hope to build the foundation."
UCCS athletic director Steve Kirkham is confident in the first-time coach, who was an RMAC Academic Golfer of the Year and holds the Mesa record for lowest score against par.
"We are very excited to have Sadie with her playing background at the Division II level and in the RMAC," said Kirkham, who formerly worked at Mesa. "She exemplified our philosophy as a student-athlete at Colorado Mesa with her accolades on the course and in the classroom."
The success of the men's program, which placed 10th at the NCAA championships last season, sets a high standard, Gritz said.
"That can only help us," she said of the men, who are picked third in the RMAC preseason poll behind Colorado Mines and CSU-Pueblo.
Women's golf is the 14th UCCS varsity program. Palmer High School graduates Forre and Jamie Zook and freshmen Raquel Castillo, Amanda Crites and Sierra Todd round out the squad.
Women: Sept. 7-8, RMAC No. 1, Desert Hawk Golf Course, Pueblo West
Men: Sept. 15-16, Brickyard Invitational, Indianapolis