Assistant coaches not only want to help coach a talented team, they want to work alongside a head coach they respect and want to learn from.
For new Idaho women’s golf assistant coach Chessey Thomas, she came to Idaho because she respected and wanted to learn from Idaho coach Lisa Johnson.
It also helps that Thomas grew up in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Spokane.
She said her head coach at another school gave her coaching advice.
“If you find a head coach you kind of want to be like, do whatever you can to go work for them,” Thomas said.
Thomas was a four-year starter on the Lewis and Clark High School golf team before she decided to play golf at Tennessee. She said she loves the Pacific Northwest and her dad is from Pullman.
Johnson recruited Thomas out of high school.
“Lisa recruited me and probably besides Tennessee, where I ultimately ended up going, she was the coach who impressed my family and I the most,” Thomas said.
Thomas said she has kept track of the Idaho women’s golf program since she has been away from the area.
She said she ran into Johnson in May just by chance. Thomas didn’t think anything was going to come out of the conversations. But she said the initial meeting in May led to a couple more conversations with Johnson and, ultimately, Thomas joining the Idaho coaching staff.
Thomas graduated from Tennessee in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Because she is not too far removed from being a college golfer, she thinks she will be able to relate to the players she is coaching.
As a student-athlete, Thomas said there are a lot of things to juggle between golf, school and a social life.
“I can empathize and kind of realize that it’s tough being a college athlete,” Thomas said.
She said she has always thrown the idea around about coaching.
After graduating from Tennessee in December, Thomas coached middle school and high school basketball, she’s worked for the American Junior Golf Association and she’s worked at a country club. She said she could see herself coaching on a consistent basis.
“That was the most, even in the times when it was tough I still found (coaching) to be the most enjoyable and the most rewarding,” Thomas said. “So then kind of having felt like I tried everything I knew that ultimately (coaching) would be kind of where I would find the most happiness, being the most rewarding and also hopefully what I end up being the most successful at.”
Thomas said it will be cool to be a part of watching student-athletes grow on and off the golf course.
“This is a really special four years for the girls,” Thomas said. “You only get to be a college golfer once and just kind of being there to remind them of the things sometimes you lose perspective on. And again that kind of comes back to being so closely removed from it.”
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CabezaGarrett
Photos by: Jackson Flynn