BY SHERI TRUSTY
In 1979, Rodger Jimison and Steve Burner were members of Woodmore’s first ever golf team to win a state championship. The team was paraded through Elmore and Woodville and celebrated with a rally on the football field. A billboard highlighting the state victory still hangs inside Sugar Creek Golf Course, a memorial to a bright spot in Wildcats sports history.
Today, Jimison and Burner, both 1980 Woodmore graduates, are coaching Woodmore’s golf teams in the hopes of helping their players grasp a little glory as well.
“That was the first year Woodmore won a team golf state championship,” Jimison said. “That’s why Steve and I coach, to help the kids have those same experiences.”
Jimison has been coaching boys and girls golf for 11 years and has served as head coach for the past seven. This year, Woodmore made the decision to hire a second coach and asked Burner, a former coach, to return and take over the boys’ team. Jimison chose to coach the girls’ team so he could take his three seniors to the end of their high school golf careers.
“I stayed with the girls because I have three seniors on the team,” Jimison said. “I’ve coached girls all my life, since my daughter was three years old.”
The girls are glad he stayed. Jimison has what he calls a “laid back” coaching style that is defined by “no yelling” and lots of encouragement. He has a straightforward approach that senior Sophia Repka said helps the girls improve their game.
“He tells us what we do wrong. He’s very honest,” Repka said. “He encourages us during tournaments and tells us what we need to work on.”
Junior Hali Ballard recently joined the golf team after moving into the district. She’s played golf since 8th grade and is grateful for the chance to learn under Jimison.
“He helps more than most coaches,” Ballard said.
Jimison’s coaching moves beyond technique into an area many coaches don’t think about: golf etiquette.
“He’s taught us things like staying quiet when somebody is about to hit the ball, and don’t walk too far ahead of someone who’s about to hit the ball,” Repka said. “Golf etiquette is something other coaches don’t teach. It’s simple things, but sometimes I don’t see people do them, and it frustrates me.”
Jimison faces another change as he heads girls golf this year. Woodmore left the Northern Buckeye Conference and joined the Sandusky Bay Conference (SBC), where they will play in the River Division, starting this school year. Although the move puts the Wildcats in a better competitive position as it pits it against schools more aligned with Woodmore’s enrollment numbers, there is an initial challenge of playing on new courses with varying turf. Ballard said reading the turf can be a difficult factor at a new location. The team has the added challenge of facing unfamiliar schools. After years of studying their competitors, the seniors are playing against against unknown opponents.
“We haven’t played with these particular teams,” Repka said.
Even with those challenges, the team made a strong start to the season. They finished seventh in the Wauseon Invitational on Aug. 8 and fifth in the SBC River Division Shootout on Aug. 9. But on Aug. 9, they outplayed the other teams and themselves in a tri-match at home.
“Our first tournament was a bit rough, but we won the tri-match. It was our personal best of all the years we’ve been a golf team,” Repka said.
Competing in new locations has advantages as well.
“They get to play on different courses. I try to get them to places that are important,” Jimison said.
With the support of Athletic Director Steve Barr, Jimison gives his team every opportunity he can.
“I have a wonderful AD,” Jimison said. “He doesn’t say no.”