Julia Jones led the Loyola Sacred Heart golf teams for a decade before stepping aside to let another local golf enthusiast take the coaching reins.
Dave Klein coached for the last three seasons, taking over a Loyola program that had turned into a year-in and year-out State B contender. The boys had won the first two state golf championships in school history in 2009 and 2010 – while the girls earned top three finishes and state trophies in each of those years as well. Then Jones stepped aside to take an assistant role with the team after wearing the head-coaching cap from 2001 to 2010.
Now she’s back in charge for the 2014 campaign. And the Loyola boys and girls haven’t loosened their grip on state dominance, having each earned state trophies in every year since Jones turned the team over to Klein.
The boys, in fact, have successfully defended their State B title in each of those three seasons, now the winners of five straight.
The renewed coach sat down to chat with the Missoulian following the Rams’ and Breakers’ sweep of their home Loyola Sacred Heart Invitational golf tournament recently to discuss her winding road as the Missoula school’s golf coach.
Q: How did you end up the head coach here again?
A: He (Klein) did resign his position at the end of last year and he had planned to do that knowing he had some other obligations. He’s taking a group to Europe (with his social studies classes). I always have been with the program; I’d just stepped down from the head position when Dave was the head coach, but I was still working with the kids. That continuity and familiarity with the program is why I was asked to take over. ... But I picture myself as an interim head coach.
AJ: Well they could certainly do worse off with an interim, someone who has experience with the team and you know all these kids already.
JJ: Yeah, but the part that I don’t like is the admin and having to talk to the press and ...
AJ: I’ll try not to take that personally.
JJ: (laughs) Oh no, please don’t! Golf is what I do, though. But the administration part of it starts to take so much of your time and it’s not just about getting the kids out anymore.
Q: So how did you end up coaching in the first place?
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A: The former coach, Mike Trudnowski, is a math teacher – he’s in charge of the math department at Loyola – and he teaches an advanced placement in the math program for Carroll College and the college said, “You can’t be out of the classroom for that many days.” The AD at that time knew I played golf and he said, “We’ve got this opening. Is there anyway we can get you to take it?”
Q: So you decided to give it a try for, like, 10 years?
A: I just discovered how much fun it was. The courses here are really generous with their time. And once we found Ed Bezanson – his daughter is (Loyola golfer) Brooke – he was all aboard this program and we started to get this system in place. Ed is the one who helps develop their swings. ... He’s been just a Godsend for our program.
Q: You talk about that, well, sort of a system, where everybody’s been working together. It’s built something over the last however many years where Loyola is really a power, a working machine. What’s that like for you to have seen? It’s obviously a different thing than it was 10 years ago.
A: I think it’s, rewarding I would say would be the top adjective. It’s not just one person who’s directing the kids. The kids build this desire and the kids just have to have the opportunity. When you share that and ask for help, I think that’s when people will step up. They’re just waiting to be asked. Nobody knew the golf program at Loyola could do this. It really has become a total team effort; it’s not just about the individuals out there playing golf, it’s about the team. And it’s very rewarding to see that continue to happen.
Q: For sure. So while we’re talking about “team,” do you think these two teams can keep that momentum rolling?
AJ: Simply put, I like it.
JJ: (laughs) I think the expectation that they have is that if they work hard enough, that it will continue.
Q: These kids – do you think they have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder? Like just because those guys (three-time state medalists Tom Swanson and Maggie Crippen) are gone, Loyola’s not out of it.
A: Just because those guys are gone, they just have more of an opportunity. I don’t think that they’re trying to prove anything. I think that they just have more opportunity. They’ve always been good quality players. We’ve got players who have come so far just because of the work that they put in.