As the Spring Semester comes to an end, so does the girls’ golfing season along with the retirement of their favorite coach.
Taking a look back, a typical day at practice for the Girl’s Golf team started after school at Kennedy Golf Course. While it is a short, ten-minute drive, the golf course, which is four miles away from the school, can take up to an hour to walk. Often times, the upperclassmen drove their younger teammates to Kennedy for practice. At the golf course, the players would spend 15-20 minutes putting and chipping, then would either go to the range or play the course, which takes roughly two hours to complete. Sophomore varsity golfer Louie Aldridge remarks that, “It is a bit of a commitment, but the friendship makes it worth it.”
Mark Smith has been teaching in the district for 27 years, this being is his 15th season coaching the Girl’s Golf team. Smith upheld the philosophy that, first and foremost, high school sports should be a fun environment. He encourages his players to enjoy the game manifesting this mindset in many of the students on the team. Sophomore varsity golfer Catie Aldridge expressed her love for golf saying, “you’re outdoors and can enjoy the nature around you, it’s peaceful and refreshing.”
However, this year Smith retires from teaching as well as coaching the Girls Golf team. At this point, teaching has run its course, but he will never forget his students here at TJ. “I will miss the interaction the most,” Smith explains, “TJ has got a good group of students and it is a fun place to work.”
Even after retirement, Smith will continue to play and enjoy the game. He declares that golf is always a challenge, keeping him on his toes. Smith concludes that, “Golf is an interesting sport because you’re on our own. It has its physical aspects, but it’s more mental than anything. You need to be able to maintain that mental fortitude to finish. In the end, it’s a game of honor, because it is up to you to call penalties on yourself.”
Coaches are there because they enjoy the sport, but more importantly, they are there because they feel like they have something they can share with the students who come out to play the game. Ultimately, the hours Smith has spent on the field developing outstanding student-athletes is dwarfed by the hours he has spent developing incredible people.
As the girls’ golfing season came to an end, so did an era of outstanding teaching. “We’re going to miss Smith when he retires,” declares junior player Eden Turnbow, “But we’re happy for him!”