Seven years ago, while I was attending the University of Florida to earn my Master’s degree in Education, I attended the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) annual conference in Sarasota, Florida. It seemed like a good idea to get involved in an organization dedicated to what I was about to jump head first into – teaching high school social studies. Furthermore, the supervisor of my program, Dr. Paul George, had made it a requirement to attend, so all in all, it was a good idea. The weekend-long event was not only a lot of fun, it was also wonderfully useful. I was able to meet hundreds of people who had spent their lives doing what I was about to start. I was able to network with individuals who were involved in all aspects of education, from current and retired principles, textbook sales representatives, current and former teachers, and also dozens of other young men and women who, just like me, were about to begin their teaching careers.
For me, the NCSS conference was a lifeline. It was a confirmation that I had made the right choice in my life, confirmation that you can only get from an auditorium full of people who already do what you want to do. Ever since then, I have belonged to NCSS as a member. During my especially tumultuous first year teaching, I relied on that organization heavily as an indelible source of information, not only from their publications and emails, but also from the camaraderie and confidence of belonging to a national organization.
After my first year teaching, an opening came up to coach my school’s golf team and I jumped at it. Golf has always been a primary love of mine and I’ve been around the industry my whole life. However, I soon realized that unlike high school teachers, golf coaches, who I define as those who help golfers compete at the game, did not have a national organization to help guide them. There was no National Council of the Social Studies for golf coaches. The first few seasons I had to figure things out for myself. When it came to organizing a team or conducting drills and practices, I had to glean what I could from a hodgepodge of books and YouTube videos. In other words, I had to go it alone.
I muddled through. After many matches and a couple of seasons, I figured things out. Much of it was trial and error. By far, the best resources I used were my fellow coaches from other teams. They were the ones who clued me in on what to do and not do. But, it was all piecemeal. I was not able to learn from coaches outside of my school district, or talk to state championship coaches to pick their brains and see what worked. I felt a sense of isolation and that there was a great hole in my knowledge of the profession that I might never be able to fill.
Not anymore. The World Golf Coaches Alliance (WGCA) now offers the support that I and so many other coaches in my position long for. Belonging to a worldwide organization like the WGCA provides us with the opportunity to combine our efforts, to learn from each other, and to provide that confirmation for those about to follow in our footsteps: Yes, you have made the right decision. Just like the NCSS did for me nearly a decade ago, the WGCA offers specific golf coaching information and has become a home for golf coaches from around the world. Most importantly, it provides the confidence that we no longer have to go it alone.
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