Camille Orito conceded early.
"I was pretty small to play other sports," the 5-foot-3, 110-pounder says, "so I took up golf and I liked it a lot."
It's in this sport that she has blended natural gifts with fundamental precision and power -- yes, power -- to develop into one of the best players the Central Section has known.
Combining a short game, her strength, with driving distance averaging 235 to 255 yards -- LPGA-type length -- the Clovis West High senior is The Bee's Player of the Year in golf.
Already a two-time Bee All-Star entering the fall, Orito was a repeat Tri-River Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player while averaging a section-best 74.3 strokes for 18 holes.
She will transfer her talent and 4.0 grade-point average to NCAA power New Mexico State, whose coach, Jackie Booth, pursued Orito after seeing her in the West Regional Combine in July at Beaumont in Southern California.
Booth is a two-time national Coach of the Year who also has coached at New Mexico.
Orito made her official visit to the Las Cruces campus later in the summer and was so hooked she canceled a visit to Fresno State.
"The coach is amazing; we see eye to eye on a lot of things," Orito says. "They have their own golf course on campus, and their women's program has a legacy of putting players in the LPGA, and that's my dream."
John Orito, her father, instilled a long-range vision from the beginning. And he had a model to follow in his brother, Reynaldo Orito, a former player on the then-Ben Hogan Tour, the Triple-A of golf.
"Camille comes from a golfing family, so we knew what it would take," John Orito says. "The big thing with Camille, we didn't take any shortcuts; in other words, we were willing to give up early success for longevity.
"You can win golf tournaments at a young age by not being the best ball striker. But, over time, as you develop and play longer and more difficult courses, you won't have the necessary distance if you're not a great ball striker.
"We took a more physical fitness side approach and her getting stronger and hitting the ball far. And while a lot of kids spend their summers going to the mall and movies, Camille stayed disciplined and played full junior seasons. Her strong point is work ethic, passion and determination. And I definitely think her best golf is ahead of her."
New Mexico State's current roster counts three players from New Mexico and one each from Texas, Arizona, Malaysia, Samoa and Germany.
"I'm a little scared," Orito says, "but I like adventures. I'm excited for it."
Player of the Year: Camille Orito
School: Clovis West
She's qualified because: Two-time Tri-River Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player and three-time Bee All-Star led the Central Section with an 18-hole average of 74.3. She fired a season-low 4-under 68 at Madera Municipal Golf Course while winning the North Area Tournament and leading the Golden Eagles to a section-record 375 as a team. She tied Stockdale's Kaley In with a 2-over 74 for the regulation 18 holes of the section individual tournament at Kings Country Club before losing in a three-hole playoff. She has a 4.0 grade-point average. Next: New Mexico State.
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