Popular, outcast, nerds, Hispanics, Caucasians, confident, nervous, geeks, winners: look at the girls in the photo. They are the picture of diversity; they are exactly what high school should be about. Strangers at the beginning of the season, friends at the end. Overcoming obstacles together, unified in a sport that most people associate as out of reach except for the wealthy.
But, it’s not about golf. It’s about providing opportunities for students, about making high school memorable and fun and a place to learn more than academics. It’s about the dance at the end of the season and the ice cream party with the rams and the volcano hole at the mini golf course that the coach forced the girls to master because, why not? Make the best of the hand you are dealt.
It’s about interacting with supportive people in the community like Sonoma Golf Course and Putters and Nicholson Ranch Winery and Louie the golf pro. Plus all the uncomfortable lessons from all the other girls and all the other coaches on all the other teams.
It’s about stopping at In-n-Out after a match and pitching in so the girl without money gets a burger. It’s about thanking the coach after practices and matches plus giving him a $100. Gift certificate at the Girl and the Fig and a handmade card that he will treasure forever. It’s about working hard and earning a spot in the top 6 during matches. It’s about committing to go to the match on a day when you have tests and essays and way too much homework because you know that learning happens outside the classroom too.
It’s about coming home and telling your parents that you learned how to chip today. Or you met a new friend or you love the uniforms. It’s about losing all of your matches, having the last week and the SCL tournament cancelled because of fire and still raving about what a fun season it was.
It’s about opportunity, about learning grit, about connecting.
It’s what high school should be about.
-Walt Williams, the last SVHS golf coach
Boy, am I a drama queen or what?!?
This letter was going to run in the newspaper on Friday along with others from students and parents and community members upset that the golf program was cut from the high school for no good reason.
When the vice principal came to me and said they were doing away with golf I wasn’t mad, I just knew I had to do whatever I could to change it.
I recently took our ex-mayor out to lunch (yes, at The Girl and the Fig and yes it was paid for by the golf team with the above mentioned gift certificate). We were talking about whether politics matters or, as I believe, it’s all a big Seinfeld episode, lots of moving around and funny drama but really about nothing. Did she achieve her goal of affordable housing? Taking care of the homeless? Community unity? Sustainable tourism? Civility? Not so much, which is exactly my point.
But it’s certainly not her fault, I thought she represented and supported Sonoma well during the fires, plus she did proclaim December 1 as, “Creekside High School Rules” day, which is totally awesome. And she moved toward affordable housing and taking care of the homeless and all that but really is it worth all the time and hard work and headache and frustration? Tough to tell, I can’t speak for other’s bubbles.
I live a few blocks from El Verano Elementary and one of my favorite walkers of the walk is principal Maite Iturri. The other day she was posted up on Railroad Avenue helping her students cross the street. I’m sure someone almost got hit because of speeding cars so instead of delegating or complaining, Maite was sitting on the corner at 7:30 am telling speeders to slow the f-down (my words, not hers). Maite is the Honey Badger administrator, fierce, always defending, always thinking, and always doing what is best for her kids.
Last week, I was at a Christmas party with Darius Anderson and he told me that he is devoting as much of his time as he can to walking the walk (my words not his).
Darius is deep diving into community outreach and not just by providing an ice rink at Cornerstone for fun and fire relief.
Another local walker of the walk is Jennifer Gray who, up until yesterday, worked as the administrative assistant to supervisor Susan Gorin. JGray comes and talks to my students all the time because she once was one of them. Single mom, dropped out of school, she has a way of connecting that only comes from experience which I do not have. I fired off an email to her when I found out, suggesting that she connect with Darius because who knows what might percolate when like minds meet.
Tuesday, I started my school day apologizing to students for what a crap teacher I was on Monday. I was pissed about golf and in that mood where Internet shopping and ignoring the needs of the students is the priority. This doesn’t happen often but when it does I like to be transparent about it, own it, and move on (it’s how you react that’s important).
My day ended with a student finishing his senior project after two years of struggle and I don’t mean just in the classroom. I mean struggling with outside influences which are so important in the moment but so not important as soon as you decide to ignore all the shit and grow the f up (the name of my forthcoming self-help book).
“I don’t want to be one of those guys who’s smoking weed all the time and not going anywhere. They’re doing the things that I’m doing but they’re like 24 and 25. That won’t be me. I’m going to have my own business by then.” His simple recipe for success, “No Excuses”.
What if we all started walking the walk? I know many of you do but we can all do better. What if we stopped seeking praise or financial reward and just did things because they need to be done. Something bugging you? Make a plan, write letters, speak up, go stand on the corner and tell people to slow the f down. Do it not to get your name in the paper but because you believe in what you are doing.
Walk the walk Sonoma (second drama queen pause for maximum impact).