A hole new ball game

Golf team embraces new members, changes


Callen Romell

The boys golf team practices putting at Morris Williams Golf Course on Feb. 16.

Helen Martin, staff reporter

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, history teacher and golf coach Clifford Stanchos makes the drive over to the golf course. It’s the highlight of his day.

“When I drive to work on B-days, I’m driving into the sunrise,” Stanchos said. “You have the sound of these beautiful green birds chirping and the fairways in front of you as the sun rises.”

Though he’s played golf his whole life, this is only Stanchos’ second year coaching. And so far, it’s giving him a run for his money.

You really want to build a love of golf versus a need to compete or get trophies.”

— golf coach Clifford Stanchos

“At any point, there are dozens of things that interplay with one another, and when you’ve been golfing long enough you don’t think about it,” he said, “To be a golf coach you need to try and break down each of those processes.”

After longtime coach Nancy Nitardy’s retirement at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, math teacher Richard Salazar—a long-time golf buddy of Stanchos’—was offered the job. When Stanchos learned this, he jumped at the chance to share the job with Salazar.

Despite the newfound challenge of switching from a player’s perspective to that of a coach, Stanchos has successfully recruited more members to join the team. Namely, one of his students, junior Jendayi Innocent. Innocent played basketball to combat possible health issues, but as time progressed, she realized she would prefer a more tranquil sport.

“I was having a hard time breathing during basketball, and I didn’t want it to be an issue where I miss school to go to the doctor,” Innocent said. “Golf calmed my blood pressure and feels good.”

Finding out that her history teacher coached a sport she’d be able to play was crucial in Innocent’s decision to switch.

“When I found out Mr. Stanchos was the coach, I was excited, because I loved how calm his class was,” she said.

Golf calmed my blood pressure and feels good.”

— junior Jendayi Innocent

Now that she’s seen him on the course, she can safely say she made the right decision. His attempts at getting the team to lift each other up have proven successful, with newer players like Innocent finding their footing on the course.

“When I started, I was kind of anxious and nervous because everyone around me was playing like pros,” Innocent said, “but now I’m actually getting the hang of it. I’m finally hitting the ball almost as high as everyone else.”

Stanchos and Salazar have worked throughout the season to bring the team closer together, hoping to disband cliques and welcome new players.

“We want to bring people in,” Stanchos said. “That has an effect on how we coach: you can’t be too tough, but you can’t be too stringent with your expectations because you might lose interest. You really want to build a love of golf versus a need to compete or get trophies.”

Stanchos has approached coaching in a more hands-on way than his coaches did during his high school years, yet he still hopes to foster a similar appreciation for the game.

“You know, our golf coach wouldn’t even show up,” he said. “We were just expected to turn in our scorecards to him and sort it all out ourselves. But we loved it so much.”

You leave the bad shots, you take the good shots with you.”

— golf coach Clifford Stanchos

By contrast, both Stanchos and Salazar participate in both practice and certain tournaments with their players. New additions to this year’s schedule include tournaments that encourage coaches to play with their students.

“We signed up for more tournaments this year, a lot more with golf coaches going to the golf course,” Stanchos said, “We’ve already played two tournaments with our players.”

Playing with his students has allowed Stanchos to appreciate a different side of the game, teaching both him and his players life lessons that can be taken off the course.

“If I do have a bad shot, then I’m gonna demonstrate how I deal with that, which is just how it goes,” Stanchos lamented. “You leave the bad shots, you take the good shots with you.”