One of three Southern Plains - Iroquois Activities Association teams to make it to state last year, the Fowler Goldbugs did a lot better than they were expected to last season, head coach Jeff Bollinger said.

After going to State the year prior, the team had lost a lot of girls, so expectations from outside the program were low, he said. That didn’t stop the Goldbugs.

“The girls just worked tremendously hard and improved over the course of the year, and to qualify for state we beat a team in the Sub-State Championship that had beaten us four times that season,” Bollinger said.

That team was Ingalls, he said.

"It was a great accomplishment because we weren't expected by others to be successful but that wasn't gonna stop the girls,” Bollinger said. “They determined their own success."

This year’s team has also lost a couple of key seniors from last year’s team, Bollinger said.

They return some quality players, but they also have low numbers too.

“We're a small school and we always battle that, but we only have seven girls on the team this year, and one of 'em's injured, so we have six suiting up for the first month of the season,” Bollinger said.

That will make it challenging for the Goldbugs to earn another State playoff berth, that that’s just one challenge facing them. Perhaps the biggest will be the fact that this season the Kansas State High School Activities Association has combined 1A Division I and 1A Division II.

That means the Goldbugs will have to compete with bigger schools and league powerhouses like Spearville, Kiowa County and South Central (the later of which both made it to state last year).

Bollinger said he isn’t happy about that, but the team is focused on getting a positive experience from participating in sports, and will work to be competitive.

"As far as my girls go, we're gonna play hard, we're gonna practice hard, but we're also gonna have fun,” Bollinger said. “We understand that sports and athletics and activities are just a part of the educational process.”

That process transcends results.

"The life lessons we want to learn don't come from winning and losing, they come from competing,” Bollinger said.