RHINELANDER - The thought of spring sports at Rhinelander high school usually brings to mind baseball, soccer, or maybe tennis. All those teams know what it takes to be successful. But there's been a new �" and loud�" team around the school this year. For the first time in three decades, the Hodags have a trap team.
"I've heard talk about it, but I didn't know if it was going to be 100% sure. When I heard this happened, I was amazed and super happy," said junior Tyler Olson.
Coaches knew there would be some interest in the team when they first met in March, but expectations turned out to be a bit low.
"Actually, when I started this, I was thinking if we got 10 kids, I was going to be doing good," said Head Coach Phil Kriesel. "But we have 29 kids that came out."
Of those 29, not everyone started as an experienced shooter.
"I hadn't really shot a shotgun before, so first coming here I needed a lot of help from the coaches," said junior Erin Drescher.
But Drescher says she's enjoyed the process of getting better.
"It's been fun to see my score improve every week," said Drescher.
Not only is Drescher a new shooter, she's also one of just two girls on the team. That's something she doesn't seem to mind.
"This is seen as such a men's sports, but it's kind of fun, there's no special treatment," said Drescher.
Other shooters, like Olson have been shooting since they were young. He says the team offers a unique opportunity.
"It's good to get used to something different, out of your comfort zone maybe," said Olson.
Like many sports, there are lessons to be learned at the range.
"If you miss a bird, you've got to move on. It's just like when you run into life problems, tough things come to you, but you have to move on from them," said Olson.
As for the future, those low expectations are now a distant memory with bigger numbers on the horizon.
"Early numbers show we could have 20 kids come out of the junior high next year," said Kriesel.
Only five shooters will graduate this spring, which means the Hodags team could grow by 50 percent. The team is fully funded through its own fundraisers and fees. Coaches say they're always looking for business donations. Shooters that average a score of 20 or better will earn a varsity letter. Seniors will also earn a varsity letter this year because it is the inaugural year.