As I mentioned in my Day 1 post, in my senior year of high school my parents provided me with an experience of a lifetime. They sent me on a week-long golf trip to Wales and England with my high school golf team.
Who was responsible for setting up this amazing trip?
The one and only legend: Mr. Mike Harris.
I’m not sure how long ago this trip started, but I know my good friend Russ Bloodgood went to Scotland his freshman year. See, Mr. Harris created a week-long exchange program with high school golf teams from the U.K. with his friend Mr. Reese who lived in England. Not only were these trips a great sightseeing and golf experience, but it prepared us for the upcoming spring golf season. Needless to say, we found out the hard way that those UK boys can play – and I mean play, in any conditions.
Now, Mr. Harris isn’t one of my influencers for the sole reason he coordinated one of the sweetest trips of my life, that’s obvious. Even though I didn’t have him as a teacher, he taught me a ton on and off the golf course. In 1999, my freshmen year, I tried out for the golf team and didn’t make it. It was the first time I took golf seriously outside of playing with my dad on the weekends, and not making the team was the best thing that ever happened to me. Coming up short fueled me to get better and better. I hit thousands of balls that year and made JV my sophomore year. I still wasn’t a rock star, but Mr. Harris believed in me. He gave me chances and knew I could grind any round out. That continued to push me to get better and make varsity my junior year.
Our senior year, we had an amazing line-up of golfers (Russ, JC, Keith, Tamara, and more) that went 17-1, set several high school records, and became our county champions. The one thing that Mr. Harris taught myself and the rest of us, was to go about our business day by day and not get too confident. Even though I believe we deserved more recognition, he told us to let our scores on the golf course do the talking.
He also taught us to take care of those around you – family, friends, and new/old relationships. See, Mr. Harris was also the caddy master at Crystal Spring Golf Resort where I worked off an on through high school and college. Most of the time when he called and needed a large amount of caddies for an outing I would come help. I never expected this, but he always made sure I got paired with an A group. Let’s just say that I’ve caddied for a famous basketball player from the 70’s and a comedian from the late 90’s. Today, Mr. Harris is still a Social Studies teacher and golf coach to the men’s and women’s golf team at Wallkill Valley High School.
How they inspired me:
The three years I played golf on Mr. Harris’ team, is a time in my life I wish I could go back to everyday. He gave me several chances to prove myself, and in turn, improve my golf game. If it wasn’t for his leadership, I would have not fallen in love with this game like I have. I went on to play at FDU all 4 years and I still play at least once a week. For me, golf is a great stress reliever and some of my best ideas come while I walk the course.
What they taught me:
Mr. Harris taught me to be humble, let your talents do the talking, and take care of those around you.
Work hard at what you are passionate about and when you are given a chance, take it.
Here is a slideshow my father put together of all the pictures from our Wales golf tirp.