BY Jim Fenton
The first-year Skyhawks, with three players on the roster, took part in the Penmen Labor Day Classic over the weekend.
The new Stonehill College women's golf team made history over the holiday weekend in Hanover, N.H.
The first-year Skyhawks, with three players on the roster, debuted as the school's 21st varsity program by taking part in the Penmen Labor Day Classic.
"It was memorable and exciting certainly to have it all begin,″ said coach Nick Crovetti after the event, hosted by Southern New Hampshire University. "To bring it all to fruition and get to this point was cool to have it officially start.″
The team consists of freshman Katelyn Jylkka of Connecticut, who signed a letter of intent last spring after being recruited, and a pair of walk-ons, freshman Francesca Feola and sophomore Jennifer Kornacki.
Since four players are needed to compete as a team in matches, the Skyhawks will be just posting individual scores this season.
Crovetti, who was hired last November, is building the program from scratch, which is what he also did at Merrimack College starting in 2011.
The Warriors went from the bottom to winning the first three Northeast-10 Conference championship while being ranked in the top 15 of the East Region five years in a row.
"It's really cool because you're not inheriting anything,″ said Crovetti. "You can lay the ground work, you can mold it how you want it. There's certainly some kind of ownership to it.
"Doing it again, it's unique in that a lot of coaches don't have the opportunity to do something twice from scratch. It's a challenge, but an opportunity.″
Merrimack had only four players in its first season as a varsity team, then built up into a program that added on each year.
Crovetti sees the same thing happening at Stonehill. He already has one verbal commitment for the 2018 season and is hitting the recruiting trail for more players.
Tiny steps will be taken this season with the three players, but the program will go from there.
"Having done this before, I can see where this is going to go and I have a vision for it,″ said Crovetti. "I know it's going to get there, whereas someone from the outside would be like, 'How do you get there?'
"I can see it and feel it and know what it's going to develop into. You have to be a little patient. It's going to take a little time. But I have the resources available here to easily replicate what happened at Merrimack.″
Jykka began playing golf four years ago and had the lowest score of the three players in the first tournament.
"She's still quite new to golf, but she has a nice foundation and a nice swing,″ said Crovetti.
The first three women's golf players ever for Stonehill will be doing their part this fall to get the program up and running.
The Skyhawks have three more tournaments left, including the NE-10 Championships in Haverhill Sept. 25 plus the Penmen Columbus Day Invitational and the Franklin Pierce Fall Invitational in October.
"Together, they're building the foundation of what we're doing and getting to know one another and gelling as a team,″ said Crovetti. "It's not so much their scores right now. It's about developing into what we're trying to build and having a positive experience.
"As they buy into what we're building, as they see the vision, then they pass that on to the next class. The freshmen next year will sort of follow what we started this year and it filters through the entire team.″
So the Skyhawks are up and running as a women's golf program after the two-day event in New Hampshire Sunday and Monday.
"I remember the first shot struck at Merrimack when I started the new program there, and it was very similar and unique and special this weekend,″ said Crovetti.