Winning high school golfers adapt to life without competition

For a group of students on Lopez, the pandemic has not only eliminated face-to-face classroom instruction, it has robbed them of a ritual: yearly state championships.

In fact, 2021 would undoubtedly have marked the Lopez High School Golf team of its18th year swinging to win a Washington title, according to Richard Tetu.

“I don’t know if enough people really know what an exemplary array of young golfers we have on this island,” shared Tetu, golf coach and high school instructor at Lopez High for more than 30 years. “Or the fact that one-third of the Lopez High’s students play golf.”

Like many educators, Tetu’s teaching style has changed because of the pandemic. Through his website, Richard Tetu’s room: Tools and Memories, he keeps his French language students and the golf current on assignments and practice.

“We’ve been exceptionally cautious on Lopez,” Tetu explained. “Perhaps more cautious than most. And because of that, school activities have been primarily conducted remotely. The website allows me to keep students informed and up-to-date on the changing landscape.

“That said, the golf team practices two to three times a week, he said. “ And always in compliance.”

That dedication has resulted in an impressive collection of state and national recognition for the small high school. Tetu’s website details those accomplishments: The girl’s team has earned the State Academic Championship seven times; the boys team, twice. The girl’s golf team took ninth place at the state tournament in 2017, 2018, and 2019, third place at state in 2013 and were state champions in 2007; the men were state champions in 2001 and took third place at state in 2003. Additionally, both the girls and boys golf teams repeatedly win the Northwest B League, District No. 1, Invitationals, and multi-districts championships.

“It’s not just the titles, either,” offered Tetu. “Our students are also known for their grades and their integrity.”

Tetu points to the countless number of compliments he has received about his players at tournaments around the state and the country.

“I’m told how truthful and honest the players are,” he said, adding that often team members are consulted for their opinion on certain plays or practices.

As if skill and integrity weren’t enough, the potential fairway stars excel academically as well. In 2008 the Lopez High School Girls Golf Team placed first in the Washington Academic Championship and, according to Tetu, in years since both the girl’s and boy’s teams have walked away with honors.

It’s not just the students’ commitment that makes the golf program so special,” added Tetu. The community continues to be incredibly supportive.”

Tetu also expressed appreciation to the Lopez Island Golf Club, especially Joyce Kruithof, for the consistent generosity shown the team.

“It’s because of Joyce and the golf club, and other benefactors on the island,” Tetu explained, “that our students pay only $50 a year to golf year ‘round, and have never had to buy equipment and supplies.”

While Lopez continues to feel the impact of the pandemic, it’s apparent Covid hasn’t diminished the enthusiasm or support for the high school sports program. Any way you look at it, that’s a hole-in-one.