It takes a community to make a golf team

L to R: Kevin Dye

Lopez Island School Golf Coach Richard Tetu has about 15 golf bags in his office, and they all got there by donation. On top of that, every year he receives 100 golf balls from a community member. The golf course  lets kids play their matches for free on the green.

“There is so much local support,” said Tetu. “The kids know it, and they feel it.”

He believes the generosity of the island has helped the team have winning seasons. Last year three golfers went to state, and Sarah Reeve came home with sixth place.

What made the win exciting for Tetu was not just the athleticism, but how the kids treated other players.

“The kids played well and had wonderful sportsmanship,” he said. “They were respected and respected other teams.”

This year’s team is leaner than most years at just 10 players and only three are returning golfers. The challenge of a small, inexperienced team is that more experienced players will have a hard time finding competition during practice. The upside of a newer team is that Tetu gets to start building a strong team for the future. He not only wants to have a strong team in the next four years, but also wants kids to learn a game that they can play for the next 70 years.

“It’s fun to see fresh faces,” said Tetu.

His goal for the season is to have a full van to tri-districts, which means seven students.

“I’m not asking to win everything, but to qualify to tri-districts would have me tickled pink,” said Tetu.

This is Tetu’s 12th year coaching golf. Every year his wife Debbi volunteers her time helping him and his golfers.

“She is half the program,” said Tetu. “She feeds the players and waters them basically treats them like plants.”

The players call Debbie “momma bear,” especially on off-island trips.

You can watch Tetu, Debbie and the team at any of the five home games. For Tetu, he hopes that two things happen at each game: enjoyment and good sportmanship.

“I don’t care if they win but that they had fun and enjoyed it,” he said. “I love winning and I am competitive, but I would like to hear that our players were well-mannered and had a good time.”