OLD TOWN – In his first season as head coach of Old Town High School golf, John Donato is preaching a simple message.
“Stay loose, you know,” junior Bryce Richards says his coach tells him. “If you have a bad hole forget about it, just move onto the next one.”
Donato, who may best be known for his long tenures as a basketball coach for Houlton, Lawrence and now in Orono, is taking on the helm with the Coyotes on the links. He thinks he has a strong message that can help teach a young team the core values of the game.
“I tell them that golf is the next shot,” he said Tuesday. “Don’t worry about the shots you haven’t completed, but the next shot is so important. Don’t get frustrated, stay cool, because you’ve got another hole.”
And the message is already resonating with a team that will return all of its players next year.
“We just kind of play relaxed, and if someone is having a bad day just try to cheer them up, joke around, stay loose and don’t get uptight about everything,” Richards said.
The team admits this year will be a feeling out process, as some on the squad have never even played competitively before. But that doesn’t mean Donato expects them to cruise through the season.
“Our goal is to get better every match,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll be students of the game and put time in the summer and become better.”