OTTAWA — Two area athletes’ injured knees became a catalyst in increasing athletic opportunities in their schools.
Wellsville senior Kaylie Reese and Ottawa senior Riley Titus did not sit and sulk over their injuries. Both knew volleyball was out as a sport, so they set out to find a fall activity.
The athletes approached their administrations about adding girls golf two years ago. A few months later in 2019, the programs were born.
Reese was the only Wellsville team member in 2019 and Kelsey Johnson joined her in 2020.
The OHS girls program had full teams both seasons.
Kaylie Reese, sr., Wellsville
Reese was adamant about playing girls golf.
"Unfortunately during my freshman year I tore up my left knee and it took me out of the sports I am used to playing, including volleyball," she said. "I found my area in golf. It is a sport I could actually do without putting too much harm on my knee."
Reese learned a lot about herself when she approached the administration about adding girls golf. She played on the boys squad in spring 2019.
"It was interesting to do, especially by myself," Reese said. "It was interesting to explain to administration why girls should not have to play boys golf, which is what I had to do my sophomore year. Being able to actually start that at my school and get other girls involved in it, has been great."
Reese turned into one of the best golfers in 3A. She qualified for state in 2019, despite starting playing earlier that year.
"Being able to make it to state my junior year was crazy to me," Reese said. "Throughout my two years of playing, the only (tournament) I did not medal in was regionals this year."
Reese plans to play golf for Baker University.
Riley Titus, sr., Ottawa
Titus is an all-around athlete for Cyclones, participating in volleyball, golf, basketball and softball throughout her high school years.
"When I tore my ACL and did not play volleyball my (junior) year, I wanted something that was new and different," Titus said. "We did not have girls golf, so I tried to get the team going. It was really fun."
That first year was a learning experience for Titus. This past season, her game improved tremendously and qualified for the 4A State Tournament.
"My focus was to get lower scores than I had last year," Titus said. "I beat my scores by 30 strokes. It excited me. It was a great experience. In golf, you have to focus more."
Reese and Titus were recently honored as members of the 2020 Ottawa Herald All-area girls golf team. Others selected for the honor included Virginia Wright, West Franklin; Shai Aho, Ottawa; and Aubrey Vasquez, Ottawa.