ROMEO – One of Blue Water Area’s high school sports dynasties has just 10 players.

But you’d be hard pressed to find a more compatible – and cohesive – group than the Almont girls’ golf team.

“Success breeds success,” Almont coach Mark Bone said. “My thought process is different to a lot of coaches. I don’t cut anyone. You just have to be an asset to the team – show up with a smile, be a good teammate, motivate others and you’re a Fundamentally, the program is just about letting the (players) be happy, letting success sell the sport, and then keep working.”

The Raiders fought their way to the MHSAA National Finals for the second straight year and the seventh time in the last eight seasons. This is in addition to the team’s eighth consecutive BWAC championship.

Jesse Kautz of Almont hits hard during a practice round at Heather Hills Golf Club in Romeo on Thursday.

“It’s just a lot of practice,” second-year Olivia Kotelnicki said. “We are (on the course) every day and we are dedicated to our sport. It is not only rewarding to see the growth in tournaments and real matches, but when you are here with your friends, it is rewarding. to have competitions and push yourself. It really helps to get the juices flowing.

“We’ve had a lot of newcomers trying out (golf),” said junior Jesse Kautz, who was named BWAC MVP on Sept. 29. “Because they want to try something new. They know they can get out here and no matter what, good or bad, they’re going to have a great time.”

This is the type of environment that Bone favors. Whether a player is experienced or new to the game, they want to have fun more than anything.

“In golf, you never know when someone’s going to flourish,” Bone said. “It might take them two or three years. Most of your players, you’re blessed if you can find someone who’s played before. But you have a lot of players who are just starting out. So that’s the cool part – see people get started, learn the game and become a real gamer.”

Almont's Tara Tencza hits a tee shot onto the green during a practice round at Heather Hills Golf Club in Romeo on Thursday.

A few years ago, a girl came out for the team who wanted to play golf and volleyball simultaneously. Bone encouraged her to try both, as he does with all of his players who participate in multiple activities. A year later, she decided to stick with golf full-time and eventually went on to play in college.

“Stuff like that is cool to see,” Bone said. “I think you want to get the full (high school) experience. I’d love to have someone who’s just dedicated to golf. But I also want you to graduate from high school and look back on those four years and you say, ‘That was cool.'”

His players share the same approach. They want to win, of course, and have done a lot. But the Raiders haven’t lost sight of the bigger picture.

“We love winning and we love winning titles,” Kotelnicki said. “But the point is to have fun. High school golf isn’t meant to be incredibly competitive. It’s meant to help kids learn and fall in love with a sport for life.”

Bella Moussiaux d'Almont hit hard during a practice round at Heather Hills Golf Club in Romeo on Thursday.

It’s an attitude the team will take to the Division 4 State Finals, which begin Friday at Grand Valley State University.

“I can’t wait for us all to be together,” Kautz said. “You just have to go into states together with an open mind. It’s a scary thing, but you stay in a hotel room, have fun, and go out to dinner afterwards. It makes everything better. It’s a really fun process.”

“It might not be real golf,” Kotelnicki said. “Because golf is stressful. But it’s mostly (about) spending time with the girls. We’re spending more time together than usual. It’s just the team spirit aspect. “

When asked what he would like to see from his Raiders in the state championship, Bone’s answer was simple.

“Have fun,” Bone said. “We’re ranked 11th and that’s good. Everyone looks at the rankings. But if we come out of there halfway through the pack, have a great experience and are we going to talk about it forever? That’s good.”

Contact Brenden Welper at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrendenWelper.