A former Montrose High School and Division I college golfer is very likely taking over a program with which she brought a state title home just six years ago.
Kala Rusk, the MHS assistant girls coach for the past two seasons, was recently named the head coach of the program. She brings with her familiarity with teaching four varsity players and a piece of knowledge about almost every golf course in Colorado.
“I’m excited to be (the coach) next year,” Rusk said Friday. “It’s nice as a coach that I can help them because I know things that they haven’t seen or played the course before. That experience definitely comes in handy when I’m helping the girls.”
The school still needs to go through a mandatory internal and external job posting to all potential candidates, but Rusk will more than likely be the new head coach, said her predecessor Dan Herod.
A four-time state qualifier, Rusk landed a scholarship to play collegiate golf for the University of Northern Colorado women’s team before her senior season had even started. She graduated from UNC in May 2017 and then took an assistant golf professional job at Cobble Creek Golf Community.
In the spring of 2018, she asked Herod if she could volunteer her time coaching the girls golf team. Herod said he wasn’t familiar with her background but once seeing all the accomplishments, he was more than willing to have her on board.
In fact, Herod said when he learned about the depth of her golf knowledge, he knew she would surpass him as coach one day.
“From a qualification perspective, she just runs circles around me,” he said.
They both tossed around the idea of Rusk taking over the program last year. But due to her pregnancy at the time, and still in her first year at Cobble Creek, she decided to wait until her life settled down.
But as this past season unfolded, Rusk told Herod she’s ready to take charge of the program in 2020.
“I got a better hold on that. I don’t know if I could have done everything this year,” Rusk said with a laugh. “Being a mom and my job at Cobble, it’s definitely a balancing act.”
Her PGA experience is the key reason Herod is stepping down. He said she has more knowledge of the sport, which will also be invaluable for the golfers next season.
“She’s just a better coach than I am,” Herod said. “From the PGA perspective, there are new ways to teach anyone how to hit a golf ball that is different from what I know.”
He added he’ll miss coaching the players but reiterated Rusk is right for the job.
“It makes you sad when you step away from something that you’ve been involved with for so long,” Herod said.
MHS had two state-qualifiers from this past year’s team. Ashlyn Manuel finished tied for 23rd place after shooting a 20-over par 92 at Pelican Lakes in Windsor. Caraline Burwell carded a 109 and ended up in 65th. (The second round was canceled due to snow.)
Although Montrose didn’t qualify a team to state this season after two straight years of doing so, Rusk believes MHS can get back on track. The Lady Indians have a chance next season with four varsity players returning from this year’s squad: Manuel, Burwell, Ally Nichols and Amanda Beaver.
“I think getting a team to state next year is really important,” Rusk said.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.