By: Tim Chambers
Johnson County earned a ton of respect on the links in 2014 and dont expect that to end anytime soon. Several key golfers will return next season but theyll have to do it without their legendary head coach who announced his retirement just recently.
Steve Arnold said goodbye to his players at First Christian Church on Thursday during their season ending awards banquet. And he did it with class and humbleness, just like hes done it in every other sport hes coached.
He leaves after a banner season in which his team made the regional.
We started practicing twice a week last June and from the get-go they worked hard at it, said Arnold. We beat Sullivan East over there in our first match and they kept gaining confidence. They played at an even keel never two or three strokes above or below their average all year. Its been a wonderful ride with some of the best kids that Ive ever been around. Im going to miss being out there with them next year.
Arnolds words were classier than a restored 57 Chevy but what hes given to Longhorn athletes is far more valuable.
He carted in what appeared to be a small wheelbarrow full of awards making sure each athlete got recognized. His players honored him with a basket they had made which included them singing the National Anthem at a recent football game.
Its just a small bit considering what you mean to us, said Morgan Eggers, a regional qualifier, during the presentation. Youve been more to us than a golf coach. Youve taught us how to do things right and prepare for life. We couldnt have played for anyone more special.
Timbs, a regional qualifier, was one of four players tabbed by Arnold as the teams MVP. The others included Eggers, Brandon Vannoy and Isaiah Penley.
Coach gave me lots of tips every single week, said Timbs who was awarded for having a 41.5 average, lowest on the team. I think the biggest thing hes helped me with is my confidence. He always reminded us to try our hardest regardless of what we shot. He wanted us playing our best golf at District tournament time. We all tried to focus on that.
Arnold told the crowd that less than two strokes separated the quartet.
Their scores counted in every match so it was hard to select just one. This thing was up and down all year. All of them played a vital role in our teams success.
Vannoy was one of those named to the All-District team alongside Timbs. He found it difficult at times trying to mix his golf game and basketball.
Im not sure which one I like best, said Vannoy. I love Coach Arnold because he treats you right and thats nothing against the other coaches. Its hard going from golf to basketball because you tire out. Im able to relax on the golf course. Its something that I enjoy playing.
Arnold presented Timbs with a beautiful frame that contained his scorecard from a previous match where he recorded a hole-in-one. Hes only the second golfer to do that during Arnolds tenure. But that wasnt the only thing that the head coach gave his sensational senior.
Coach gave me all kind of tips that helped my game, said Timbs. I think the biggest thing he helped me with is my confidence. Hes always saying regardless of what you shoot just try your hardest. He wanted us playing our best golf at District tournament time. We tried to do that for him.
Arnold handed Penley the sportsmanship award. He said that the junior had the best golfing attitude that he had seen in his 25 years of coaching.
You never know if hes shooting a 38 or a 68, said Arnold. He approaches every hole the same. Hes got a wonderful attitude about the game and he plays well too.
Penley said it was tough at times knowing this was Arnolds final season.
There was lots of pressure because we all wanted to do well for Coach, said Penley. We started out well but flattened out a bit there in the region. But I think we did him proud. It was an honor getting to play for him.
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