COLORADO SPRINGS — Longtime coach Bill Paulson meant the world to his golfers — both boys and girls — at Cheyenne Mountain High School.
It was clear when the girls clinched their third-straight state championship in May that the about-to-be-retired coach was going to be sorely missed for the Indians.
Paulson retired in May, but the world kept spinning. The Indians were without a golf coach and had to find someone to fill that void. Cheyenne Mountain athletic director Kris Roberts began searching for a coach who would embrace the Indians' golf tradition, while putting his own stamp on the team.
He found someone to do just that in John Carricato.
Carricato spent years running youth sports for the Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation department. His impact on sports has had a ripple effect on generations of athletes in the Pikes Peak region.
But that's not why he was chosen to pick up where Paulson left off.
"We were fortunate to have a great applicant pool," Roberts said. "John was clearly the best one on all levels and for him to accept is really fortunate."
While Roberts did his duty in considering all applicants, Carricato had one more intangible on his side that none of the others did. He had the endorsement of Paulson himself.
"Bill has made the transition really smooth," Carricato said. "He's mentoring me into the program. Bill came to me in the spring and said he wanted to endorse me for this program and that was an honor."
For Carricato, this job wasn't about just about coaching a premiere program. When he was able to gather his team, he was thrilled to hear that they share his long-term vision for the Indians.
He and his players want to establish a legacy and pass it down, much the same way Paulson did.
Paulson will indirectly play a big part in that legacy. He has created the reputation of a team that will always be a threat to contend for a state title and built a team-oriented mentality with his players that continues to rear its head, even today.
"When you start thinking about premiere state-wide programs for boys and girls, there's not a better program," Carricato said. "There's that added commitment that (the players) have. They have their own motivation."
It will be weird to go into this season without Paulson for some of the upperclassmen. But the energy and attitude that Carricato has brought to the team is well-received.
"It's a different style of coaching, but I like it," junior Aiden Detloaf said. "We more set practices, we work on drills more often. It helps with the freshmen and the sophomores compared to what I had coming in."
There may not have been a more defining image of what Paulson truly meant to his players than at the girls' state championship tournament in May. When senior Kylee Sullivan sank her putt on the 18th hole, she broke down knowing that both Paulson's and her career were over.
As a result, players like senior Charley DeVries will have to go through their final year without the man who had mentored them early.
"Personally, it's a little disappointing," DeVries said. "He really coached me through my entire game."
But the time to dwell is over. Just like any other team, the Indians are teeing-off their season and only looking to win. It's now on Carricato to try and secure the first boys' state golf championship since 2004.
"(Carricato) brings the team a lot closer together," junior Everett Dwyer said. "I think we're going play well. If one person doesn't play well we can't dwell on it. The other three have to go out there and make shots."
Boys golf preview
2014 individual champions:
- 5A: Grant Olinger, Pomona (graduated)
- 4A: Taylor Rodriguez, Pueblo South (graduated)
- 3A: Yale Kim, Dawson School (junior)
Defending team champions:
- 5A: Coronado
- 4A: Valor Christian
- 3A: Sterling
- 5A: David Packer (Sr.) Arapahoe, Hunter Paugh (Sr.) Fort Collins, Daniel Pearson (Jr.) Fairview, Isaac Petersille (Sr.) Coronado, Trevor Olkowski (Jr.) Grand Junction, A.J. Ott (Sr.) Fort Collins
- 4A: Braden Bentley (Sr.) Mesa Ridge, Britt Walton (Sr.) Steamboat Springs, Coby Welch (Sr.) Valor Christian
- 3A: Will Hazen (Sr.) Aspen, Oliver Jack (So.) Kent Denver, Yale Kim (Jr.) Dawson School, Max Messner (Sr.) Colorado Academy, Sam Taylor (Jr.) Peak to Peak
Regular season begins: Aug. 13
Regionals: Completed by Sept. 25
State meet: Oct. 5-6