RENSSELAER — Armed with a borrowed bag of clubs from his uncle and a general knowledge of the rules, Wes Radtke is ready for his first season as girls’ golf coach at Rensselaer Central.
Radtke put his roster of 13 girls, including four seniors, through the paces in the Bombers’ first practice on Friday. He will hold practices on Saturday and Monday before the team opens the season on Tuesday when they host the annual Rensselaer Invitational at Curtis Creek.
The girls’ basketball coach at RCHS the past four years, Radtke will be coaching girls’ golf for the first time ever. He has a general understanding of the rules, and anyone who knows him knows he is passionate about teaching kids.
“I love sports so anytime I get around sports and help young people, I get excited,” he said.
It’s not the first time Radtke filled in at the last minute to keep a sport on schedule. He served as a boys’ tennis coach at North Judson for two years despite having little knowledge of how to play the game.
“The only sports I haven’t coached are swimming, cheerleading and soccer,” he said. “Hopefully by filling in this year, it will give the school time to find somebody for next year.”
RCHS athletic director Ken Hickman had several leads early in the hiring process, but none worked out. So Radtke was asked if he would fill in for former coach Mike Feagans, who recently took a job as assistant principal at Rossville Elementary School.
“I will try to be a positive influence on the team,” Radtke said. “I just want to help the girls get better.”
The Bombers open the season with five 18-hole invitationals in seven days, including visits to West Lafayette (Aug. 6), Benton Central (Aug. 7), Twin Lakes (Aug. 8) and Kankakee Valley (Aug. 10).
Radtke added he accepted the job because he wanted the girls, particularly the seniors, to have a golf season this summer.
“If there is anybody in the community who would like to give advice, they are welcome to come to practice,” Radtke said.
RCHS returns No. 1 golfer Cami Geleott, a senior, as well as two-year player Kahner Schultz, a junior. Hannah Rose is another senior and Addison Hesson also returns.
Radtke said 13 girls showed interest in playing this summer.
“Cami was a basketball manager for me a couple of years, so I have a rapport with her,” Radtke said. “She’s a big reason why I did it because she was nervous about not having golf her senior year. With what all the athletes went through in the spring, I couldn’t let not having a coach be another reason to not do a sport.”