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'Nomadic' Ross leads Vikings girls golf team

Takes over after stints as a soccer, track, tennis and badminton coach

Published: Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 10:05 p.m. CDT
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(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Geneva's Nicole Hassels tees off during tryouts for the school's team Wednesday morning at Mill Creek Golf Club in Geneva.
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(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Geneva’s Allie Henrie hits onto the green during tryouts for the school’s team Wednesday morning at Mill Creek Golf Club in Geneva.
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(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Geneva High School girls golf coach Doug Ross (left) talks with Geneva Assistant Athletic Director Dave Carli during tryouts for the school’s team Wednesday morning at Mill Creek Golf Club in Geneva.
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(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Geneva's Mary Claire Novak hits from the fairway during tryouts for the school's team Wednesday morning at Mill Creek Golf Club in Geneva.
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(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Geneva's Nicole Hassels putts during tryouts for the school's team Wednesday morning at Mill Creek Golf Club in Geneva.

Doug Ross lends a top-notch anecdote to this, the world’s first “You might be a nomadic coach if…” joke.

“I’ll run into somebody 10 years later and I can’t remember what I remember them from or which sport they played for me because I’ve done so many,” Ross said.

As Ross takes the reins of his fifth career sport at Geneva, consider that fair warning to girls golfers he’ll see in future interactions at the supermarket. If counting strokes borders on tedious, however, counting sports always brings a smile.

“He’s done a good job in all the sports that he’s had,” Geneva athletic director Jim Kafer said, “and I think it’ll be the same thing with golf.”

Don’t say Ross isn’t doing something he went to school for. Since 2000, the physical education teacher has coached Vikings boys soccer, girls track and boys tennis. In 2009, he continued the racket motif and revived Geneva girls badminton after about a two-decade hiatus.

Before his Geneva career, Ross pioneered the boys soccer and boys tennis programs at Neuqua Valley, paving the way for his return to the Tri-Cities, where he started a family.

Ross served as Eric Hatczel’s assistant last season but took the head coaching position when Hatczel moved to the boys golf program after Bill Koehn retired.

“I’m certainly very excited to be able to take on another head coaching position,” Ross said. “I feel comfortable in that role. I know the girls from last year, so I’m even more comfortable knowing that I know all the kids, so that makes it an even smoother transition.”

Ross’ eclectic pursuits mirror his busy Batavia upbringing. He competed in soccer, track and basketball as a Bulldog after balancing those sports with tennis and baseball as a child.

He first embraced golf as an adult but plays regularly in leagues.

Adding new sports or taking up old ones is a pattern he hopes catches on when athletes complete their high school or college careers.

“When you have to cut it down to certain sports in high school, it’s unfortunate you have to make those decisions,” Ross said. “It’s even harder for kids nowadays, because compared to 30 years ago, the level of competition has certainly increased, the kids feel like they have to specialize earlier and earlier to even make their high school teams.”

As Ross proves, specialization can be a foreign concept for coaches. Last school year, the counterpart at his alma mater, Batavia’s Tim Kauffmann, considered juggling a girls golf assistant position with his coaching duties in the boys basketball and baseball programs.

Not wanting to compromise his time for lesson plans, he stayed with two sports but followed the girls golf team under then-coach Morgan Connell. The first few days of tryouts and practices this week have kept Kauffmann buzzing.

“Just watching the kids compete. It’s awesome to see them mature into the great athletes that they are now,” he said.

Ross’ coaching pursuits overlapped at times through the years. Of course, the biggest balancing act comes during those chance encounters in public.

“It’s a very rewarding experience for me to have coached all of those sports,” Ross said. “I have such a large group of kids that I’ve had experiences with that I’ll remember forever.”

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