Nothing gets me more excited than teaching kids about disc golf. I have spent many days teaching gym class after gym class in countless school districts about our favorite game. In most cases I am lucky to have a couple of kids in each class that may have played once or twice. It is kind of disappointing, since in most cases there is a course within ten minutes of the school. Kids today are pulled in many more directions than we ever were; there is not enough time for them to try all the possible activities. So how do you get kids, schools, and parents to notice disc golf? What does it take? According to Billy Matthews, a history teacher at Desert Oasis High School, ”it just takes one teacher that wants it”.
Billy started the Desert Oasis High School disc golf club in February 2012. As the current varsity boys soccer coach Billy had a passion for mentoring youth through sports. Disc golf was Billy’s newest personal passion and thought how much his kids would love it, if they got a chance to try. We had met during a practice round, he was out for his first time to the course and it just happened to be a practice day for the Gentlemen’s Club Challenge. The first players he encountered were Garrett Guthrie and I practicing for the event. Billy caught a break getting to see the farthest thrower on the planet letting lose in practice, and he was hooked. He walked up to me and said “area 51 called they want their UFOs back” the very next year Billy invited top professionals, including myself, to come teach a disc golf demo and clinic at his high school. He had great student attendance and the pros wowed the kids with their impressive skills. Now are third year attending they have a full official disc golf club .They competed against West CTA High School last year and have contacted other schools in Nevada to try and get more schools playing. Billy says there overall competitive goal is to have a Nevada High School State Championships.
This year the pros are in town as usual for the Gentlemen’s Club Challenge, the largest pro event in Nevada for many years. Billy has set up the now annual DO High School demo and clinic. When we arrived they were all wearing new bright red DO High School disc golf shirts. I could tell Billy is making progress in this district. The Kids set up a nine hole course and we split into 8 foursomes. Each group included a professional player to mentor each group of students. After the rounds the club buys pizza out of there club funds they have raised all year. We sign autographs and take pictures and enjoy a meal with the future of our game. Then for fun we had CTP, ring if fire, and a distance contest. The players gave away many discs and prizes from multiple companies. Then the big arm pros showed off a bit and another year is in the books at Desert Oasis High School.
It took three total hours of our day with travel time included to hang out with the students and promote our game. Many times over the years I have tried to explain that promoting doesn’t always directly relate to dollars. It relates to how much you love the game and how you think it can positively affect a community and the people in it. As I get older I prefer the feeling I get from helping a student, than I do spending any of my earnings. If you want it and give it your heart the kids will feel your passion and they will be hooked for life. Almost every sport I played as a child some passionate enthusiast showed me how to play. Kids just need mentors and exercise, so if you know teachers take them to play and maybe you can give them the fever.
When you search high school disc golf on the web you can see there are many efforts similar to Billy‘s experience. I could not find an official national high school disc golf organization, but I can tell you that many states such as Minnesota have over twenty high school teams competing annually for the Minnesota High School Disc Golf Championships. It will just be a matter of time before disc golf is a standard high school elective thanks to all of the collaborative efforts nationwide. I would like to thank all the professional players that attended and showed their support. Cary Trotter, Vanessa V., Seth Cook, Devan Owens, Nikko Locastro, Ricky Wysocki, Jessica Weese, Jared Roan, and Rex Rogers.