On the golf course, the South Whidbey High School girls team is one of the most successful programs in the state.
However, there is more to the team than the trophies that line the school’s display case, according to new coach Joe Thompson, and he wants to continue those elements as well as the winning ways.
Thompson is taking over for Garth Heggenes, who stepped down after last season. Heggenes added his touch to a long history of successful Falcon golf. Most recently, his team finished first in the state in 2017, second in 2015 and 2016 and fourth in 2018.
“The main reason I wanted the coaching job was to have a positive influence on the girls and to continue to establish the level of success that the South Whidbey community strives for,” Thompson said. “Garth Heggenes did a wonderful job of this.
“Though it is simple to see the level of success that the South Whidbey girls golf team has had based off of tournament standings and trophies, it is more difficult to see the profound positive effect that Garth has had in creating a tight-knit group of girls who put team before oneself.
“He truly did a great job in creating a family atmosphere. I took the job at South Whidbey because I want to fill the big shoes that Garth has left and continue to have a profound positive influence on the team.”
Thompson comes to the job with a strong background in golf.
He was born and raised in Beaverton, Ore., and played football, basketball and golf at Beaverton High. After graduating in 2008, he attended Warner Pacific College in Portland where he played golf for four years.
After college, Thompson played professional golf on the Adams mini-tour for one year and then returned to Portland and played some events on the Oregon Golf Association tour.
While competing on the Adams tour, he was the assistant golf coach at Southern Arkansas University for one year. After returning to Portland, Thompson was the assistant coach at Beaverton High School for two years.
He came to Whidbey Island last year when he was hired as an assistant golf professional at Useless Bay Golf and Country Club, the home course for South Whidbey High School.
He also served as Heggenes’ assistant.
Thompson said there are only two avenues to success in golf: resilience and dedication.
“Resilience is important because golf is hard,” he said. “It is not uncommon when taking a golf lesson to initially get worse before getting better. Having the resilience to not give up and stick with it is very important.
“Dedication is the other ingredient. However much a person dedicates themselves to getting better will have a bigger payoff.”
Winning is fun, Thompson acknowledges, but his goal is to “establish a program that develops good students and good people.”
Golf taught Thompson honesty, integrity, persistence and confidence, and he wants to pass those qualities to his athletes.
“We might not win every match we play in, but we are going to learn through the process and have fun doing it,” he said.
Thompson and the Falcons begin practice for the 2019 season on Monday, Feb. 25.