ANDOVER — For many high school athletes, the idea of being the lone female on a varsity team, competing almost entirely against males, would be a frightening undertaking.
But not for Colleen Caveney.
Growing up with a father and four big brothers that were all dedicated golfers, Caveney spent her entire childhood facing off against the guys.
So what is there to fear against a Merrimack Valley Conference foe, even a male?
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” said Caveney, a junior at Andover High. “It doesn’t worry me. And beating them, I admit, is pretty fun.”
The only girl on the Andover High varsity golf team, Caveney has delivered a standout season, earning five victories and two ties, all against male opponents, for an Andover team that entered the week 7-6 including a key win over Central Catholic.
“Colleen is doing a great job for us this season,” first-year Warriors coach David Fazio said. “She has really stepped up and played really well.”
Golf was a part of Caveney’s life from the time she could walk.
Father Keith and mother Jane shared their love of the game with their five children, including youngest son Danny — the Andover golf captain a season ago — and daughter Colleen.
“My whole family has always played golf,” Colleen Caveney said. “But when I was younger, I mostly just liked going out and playing with my family. I didn’t really take it seriously until a few years ago.”
Caveney’s breakthrough came at age 12, when she took home her first trophy.
“I won the Lowell Junior Girls City championship,” she said. “I actually won it two more times after that. I still have the trophies next to my desk. That was when I started to think more about taking golf seriously. I got my own membership to Andover Country Club and started to really enjoy it.”
As a freshman, Caveney played for the JV team at Andover, then did not go out for the school team as a sophomore, instead focusing on basketball.
Last winter, Caveney emerged as a key member of the Golden Warrior hoops team, which also featured her cousin, 1,000-point scorer Devon Caveney.
Colleen averaged 5.1 points a game as a guard for the Warriors, which finished 18-7 and advanced to the Division 1 North semifinals.
It was then that her basketball connections helped lead her back to play for the Andover golf team.
“I have known coach Faz for years,” Caveney said. “I always went to his basketball camp (Hooptown) growing up and I coached at it this year. He was also my gym teacher, and I knew his daughter (former standout guard and current UConn lacrosse player) Ally through basketball. I was excited to have Faz coach, and I talked to (assistant basketball coach Carol) Martini, too, and she encouraged me to go out for the team.”
Prior to team tryouts, Caveney fired the round of her life, shooting a 40 over nine holes at Renaissance Golf Club in Haverhill.
“That was probably the best I have ever played,” she said. “Maybe I shot a 41 before at Andover (Country Club). But I still wasn’t totally sure I was going to make the team. But coach Faz’s encouragement gave me confidence.”
Caveney not only made the varsity team, she quickly began contributing to the team from the No. 8 spot in the lineup. She opened her season with a victory over Methuen, and has been a steady contributor ever since
“I didn’t even know if I would be playing much this year,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun. I use a lot of the lessons I learned from my father, who still plays a lot. Things like course management and how to hit in certain situations.
“I don’t know if it is like basketball, but it helps to be an athlete. Look at (Andover basketball legend and current Boston College sharpshooter) Nicole Boudreau. She could go out and shoot a great round of golf without even practicing because she is a great athlete. And the guys on the team are terrific to play with.”