ONTARIO – As the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association considered the nominees for Coach of the Year in the sport of golf, one would assume the coaches considered would have one important item on their resume-a golf course for practices and tournaments.
In the end, the nominee ultimately receiving the honor lacked only one important facet-a golf course.
Ontario’s Scott Helmick has been coaching the Tiger team for the past 23 seasons and was recently named Coach of the Year by the OACA.
For a large portion of his career, coaching was normal-taking the team to the local course, use the putting green, the driving range and get the team out for a few holes.
In 2015, the City of Ontario made the decision to close the municipal course due to budget concerns. Helmick and the Tigers were left without a home course. Two alternate courses remained, one 10 miles from the school with the alternate located in Idaho, 11 miles from Ontario High School.
“It really hurt the youth of our community having the course closed,” said Helmick. “The course had youth camps in the summer and built an interest among kids playing golf at an early age.”
Undeterred, Helmick formulated a plan for the Tiger squad.
“We started raising money for a practice facility located right here on the Ontario campus,” said Helmick. “We were determined to build Tiger Range.”
Three years later, the dream was a reality with Helmick conducting fund raising, planning and construction of a three-station practice complex. Station one, capable of five golfers, is a driving range within a cage. The second stage is a five-hole putting green, including a break. The final stage is a chipping green.
“Scott came up with the idea and took it from beginning to end,” commented Nic Albisu, superintendent of the 8C Ontario School District. “He just did not want to leave his team without a local facility to learn the game of golf and practice. We take tremendous pride in the fact we have a full facility available to the students. The complex is available because of Scott’s work and belief the students deserve a place to learn the game.”
Helmick has coached the entirety of his career at Ontario High School. He started coaching just the boys, taking over the girls after a coach’s resignation. Since 2012, Helmick has handled double duty, coaching both teams.
“Scott is an education based coach, that cares about the success of his athletes both on and off the field. Former athletes have thanked him for pushing them both in the classroom and on the athletic field. The positive relationships he builds with his students and athletes are what make Coach Helmick an exceptional coach,” said Josh Mink, athletic director for Ontario High School. “Coaches describe Scott as ‘committed’, ‘eager to work with athletes’ and ‘promotes positive competitiveness’. One coach wrote, “Ontario is very lucky to have Scott servings its students and athletes. Coach Helmick is one of the most committed coaches I have known and worked with in the Tiger Athletic Family. Ontario High School would like to congratulate Coach Helmick on this wonderful accomplishment. We are honored to call him a Tiger.”
The sport of golf in the 4A division is tough, but Helmick has seen success. A number of boys have placed in the top ten at the state tournament. In the girls’ play, Helmick saw Anna Jaramillo win an individual title and Helmick’s daughter, Riley, placed third in her senior year.
“I will keep coaching, I love it,” Helmick said. “Coaching the kids during golf season is relaxing after an intense season of football.”
Helmick has been an assistant football coach for the Ontario football team for many years.
The only drawback for the coach of the year is time to play golf himself.
“During the season, I rarely get a chance to play myself,” said Helmick. “I do have a trip to St. George planned this summer, so I hope to catch up on some golfing.”
When coaching a spring sport in a 4A school, finding kids for the team can present a problem. Over the years, those who chose not to play have looked Helmick up to apologize for not being on the team.
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“I have former athletes come back years later and tell me they should have played,” Helmick said. “Golf is a lifetime sport and some of Ontario’s best athletes have not started into the game until much later in life.”
Helmick will now enter competition with other regional golf coaching winners with the victor competing for a national coaching title. Helmick was nominated for the award by his peers, members of the OACA, staff members of the Oregon School Activities Association and Oregon athletic directors.