RHS eyeing LaDonne as head golf coach
RIFLE — Steve LaDonne and his family are probably the most influential members of Rifle’s golf community. LaDonne has been the head pro at Rifle Creek Golf Course for 21 years and his father was one of the six original founders of the course.
The influence looks like it will continue to grow. LaDonne, 49, has been recommended for the vacant Rifle High School golf coach position and will receive the job pending school board approval.
“When I was approached (about the opening) it really didn’t take me long to decide,” said LaDonne, who graduated from Rifle High School in 1972. “It’s something I think I will really enjoy doing.”
Coming out of college LaDonne envisioned himself becoming a golf coach. He majored in physical education at Western State College in Gunnison, but ended up opting for the club pro route instead of coaching. He now has both. He will continue on as the head pro at Rifle Creek, while adding the coaching duties to his agenda.
“Steve has been a fixture in the golf community and in rifle, not to mention he’s a graduate of Rifle High School,” said Tamra Petersen, RHS athletic director. “We will be very, very excited to have him on staff.”
Assuming the school board approves, LaDonne will replace Roger Walters, who resigned after leading the Bears to the Class 4A Western Regional title and State Tournament last season.
“I hated to see Roger resign. He was a tremendous coach,” LaDonne said. “Roger’s are big shoes to fill and he’s been a really great help to me.”
While LaDonne may be a new coach, his players are certainly not strangers to him. As the head pro at Rifle’s only golf course, he has “worked with most of them since they were little kids.”
And LaDonne won’t inherit a team with empty cupboards. The Bears lost Luke Antonelli to graduation after he posted a third-place finish at state last season, but return their three other varsity players. Jerrad Brown finished third at regionals and 43rd at state to lead the returning players. Cole Manuppella and Jim Owens placed 65th and 76th, respectively, at state and also return this fall.
“Steve will help a lot with our swings and is going to be an awesome coach,” said Brown. “He knows all our swings – what we do wrong and what we do right. He’s just a good coach.”
The LaDonne coaching era will likely officially begin Aug. 5 with the first practice for the boys’ team. Participants must have the required physical prior to practice. There will also be a team meeting that parents are invited to attend.
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