Thursday, December 12, 2013
By Tom Chard email@example.com
OLD ORCHARD BEACH — A familiar face in Maine golf is the new coach at Old Orchard Beach High.
Bryce Roberts, a longtime golf pro and the new coach at Old Orchard Beach, watches one of his first-year players, Anthony Langella, practice at Dunegrass Golf Club.
Photos by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer
It’s been almost 50 years since Bryce Roberts last coached at the high school level, but now he’s the latest in a growing group of golf pros coaching high school teams.
Bryce Roberts of Cape Elizabeth, who spent 40 years as a head golf pro at four southern Maine courses, is lending his expertise to help the Seagulls' program. He replaced John Regan, who stepped down after 12 seasons.
"It's been a lot of fun so far," said Roberts, 72.
Roberts has a young team, with four of the top eight players being new to the game. Roberts has been busy teaching the game's rules and etiquette, as well as working on swings.
"It's kind of exciting watching them pick things up. They absorb a lot playing with their teammates," he said.
Roberts last coached in high school back in 1963. At the time, he was teaching at Portland High and was the assistant baseball coach at Biddeford. A year later, he became the head baseball coach at the former St. Francis College in Biddeford.
A few years later, Roberts was in the golf business as the head pro at Biddeford-Saco Country Club. From there, he moved to Cape Arundel in Kennebunkport as the head pro. Next came stops at the Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth and then Prouts Neck in Scarborough.
"I don't know how many high school golf coaches in the state have the qualifications of a Bryce Roberts," said Old Orchard Beach Principal Rick DiFusco.
"He clearly can be an asset as a teacher of the game. Hopefully, the kids will enjoy golf enough to continue playing it after high school."
DiFusco didn't have far to go to plant the seed with Roberts about the possibility of applying for the job. Knowing the Seagulls needed a coach, DiFusco walked across the street to ask if Roberts would be interested. Roberts and DiFusco are neighbors in Cape Elizabeth.
Roberts told DiFusco he would think about it. Roberts called two high school golf coaches he knows well, Brian Bickford of Greely and Mike Verrier of Thornton Academy, to get their input.
"They thought it would be great," said Roberts.
DiFusco said two other candidates were interviewed. He acknowledged the program lost an outstanding coach in Regan.
"John did a great job. The kids loved him. He's a teacher in our district and he brought that same teaching excellence to the golf course," said DiFusco.
Regan, who is the longtime Old Orchard Beach boys' basketball coach, said he stepped down because he was looking for a break after summer basketball and before the start of the high school basketball season.
Roberts isn't the only golf pro to take over a high school program this fall. Greg Baker, an assistant pro at Martindale in Auburn, is the new Yarmouth coach.
Baker played golf for the Clippers in the early 1970s.
They join a growing list of pros already coaching high school teams. They include Bickford, the head pro at Val Halla; Rick Altham at Gorham; Jim Ouellette at Cheverus; Keenan Flanagan at Oceanside; Tim Desmarais at Cape Elizabeth; and Rob Jarvis at Bangor.
"Golf pros are getting involved, and that's good for junior golf," said Bickford.
"It allows for proper mentoring, and that's all good. Golf pros can help players with the technical as well as mental side of the game."
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org