By Dom Cioffi
It’s over. Three straight seasons of coaching have officially ended. I have been teaching, scheduling, yelling, motivating, encouraging, disciplining and coordinating for the last nine months and now I finally have some time to myself.
Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but after a fall season of coaching baseball, a winter season of coaching basketball and a spring season with baseball again, I am more than ready to step away for a few summer months.
If you’re into the coaching “thing,” it can become all-consuming, which means that, even when you have a weeknight off or a weekend day off, you’re still thinking about your team or players in one capacity or another.
But summer is here and now it’s my time to be competitive. And nothing gets my personal competitive juices flowing more than golf. Of course, the funny thing is that I almost always play alone. For me, the competitive nature of golf is between me and the eighteen holes I’m facing.
I’ve been golfing since my father dragged me and my two brothers out for a round when I was 18. I had hit balls in the yard on occasion, but until that day I had never stepped foot on a course. It took me only one round to become hooked.
After that day, golf became a growing obsession in my life. For years, I incessantly chipped balls around my yard; I’d even shovel snow off the grass so I could practice during the winter.
Eventually I purchased a large golf net and dedicated a corner of my yard to be my own personal training facility. I even installed a flood light so I could hit balls at night.
Of course, hitting balls into a net only provides limited feedback. In order to see if you’re truly on the right path, you need to visit a driving range so you can view the trajectory of your ball flight. The smoothest, most beautiful swing in the world doesn’t amount to much if you can’t control where the ball ends up.
So, not surprisingly, I’ve always been a regular at the ranges, where I’ve spent ridiculous amounts of money hitting tiny white balls into open fields. And then there’s the actual golfing at the clubs, where I’ve spent even more money. And let’s not forget the equipment… and the training aids… and the golf schools… and the clothing.
There’s no doubt that golf has been a costly pastime, but the payoff has been a golf swing that has provided a lot of joy and success. I’ve worked hard to hone my swing so when I do play a round, I generally leave the course feeling somewhat accomplished in my ability.
So on this first weekend away from coaching, I grabbed my clubs and visited the range to brush up on my game. I chipped and putted for a short time to warm up before finally wandering over to the range to groove my swing.
The first couple of swings were rusty, but eventually the feeling came back. Since I was feeling good, I decided to walk nine holes to really immerse myself back into the game.
Somewhere around the fifth hole, as I was staring down an approach shot of about 140 yards, I suddenly hit a banana ball that sliced far to the right and out of bounds. The bad swing caught me off guard so I dropped another ball and re-hit. The result was the same. I stood there for a moment and tried to ascertain what happened before dropping another ball, which ended up in the same spot.
I finished out the round almost completely unable to advance my ball forward. I went back to the range and hit two more buckets of balls, but nothing changed. In frustration, I went home, but as night fell, I was out in the yard swinging at plastic balls trying to figure out what happened. Seemingly, in an instant, my golf swing had disappeared.
I spent the rest of the holiday weekend watching videos, hitting balls, videotaping my swing and doing whatever I could to rectify my problem. But nothing helped.
So here I sit, staring at an entire summer of golf without a shred of a swing, thinking that I’m the one who now needs a coach. How’s that for irony?
This week’s feature, “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the ninth installment in the X-Men series, could have used a little coaching as well, since I found myself fighting to stay awake throughout most of the film.
Personally, I’m over the superhero genre, but I’m obviously in the minority since ticket sales continue to climb with each release. But like any other film sub-set, even superhero productions have standards and in my opinion, “X-Men: Apocalypse” fell below the high standards set by the original films.
Check this one out if you’re a teenager or a comic book fan-boy, otherwise save your theater dollars for something with a little bit more substance in the story department.
A “C-” for “X-Men: Apocalypse.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected].