As Greta Williams enters her 16th season as the head coach of Naperville North girls golf, she’s not only helping her golfers swing and putt their way to low scores, but she’ll also have a familiar face, a former DVC foe and a good friend on her side.
“Eventually it came to this summer when she gave me a phone and asked, what do you think about our conversation a couple years ago when we really just chuckled about what I was doing in retirement. I thought about, well what am I doing from 4-7 in the evening? Nothing. There’s no reason not to help Greta out; she’s been a friend for a long time.”
Former longtime Naperville Central girls golf coach Jane Thompson is stepping back into her coaching shoes as a Co-Head Coach for Naperville North this fall. With Coach Thompson slipping into the blue and orange colors during that 4-7pm time slot this fall, it gives Coach Williams the chance to watch her daughter Annabelle, who is a Freshman varsity golfer at Oswego East. The addition of Thompson to the coaching ranks is a huge relief for the Huskie veteran.
“She knows girls golf really well and she’s seen pretty much everything that you can imagine so she’s really great at just recognizing when the girls are struggling or to motivate them what to do when they’re having any kind of issues on the course. It’s been fantastic and I’ve learned a lot from her over the years as well. So it’s been a wonderful thing to have her as a part of our team.”
This week Williams caught a tough break and is off the course because of COVID. However, that just shows the true value of a longtime coach and teacher like Thompson, who initially retired after the 2019 season, ready to fill the void.
“She just came in and hadn’t missed a beat. Being able to go and watch my daughter play in her matches and if I had to miss practice or if I had to miss a match, she was already on it in terms of a practice plan and working with the girls and being able to get them ready for a match.”
“She’s gotten herself into the orange and blue mode, she wears all our uniforms and swag now and I’m like, “You look good in orange and blue Jane!” So it’s been good.”
What has made Thompson’s addition so seamless is that she and Williams both have a similar coaching style.
“She and I have had the same coaching philosophy for a long time. Although we worked against each other we were mentored by two great coaches, that being Bob Sterr for Naperville Central and Ed Rosenthal for Naperville North. So they’ve kind of set us on the way on how to be rivals but friendly rivals.”
Even though she’s back in a golf uniform, it took some time to get adjusted to leading a team she’s coached against for over twenty years.
“Although wearing orange was a little shocking for me to put on not gonna lie on that and I’m not gonna lie, over the first tournament I kept watching the kids in red and Greta is like, “The wrong team, wrong team!” But it’s always fun to be around the kids, it really is.”
As for the golfers themselves they believe that having another coach with so much experience will improve their skills on the course this fall.
“I was just unsure until I found out that Ms. Thompson is a legend in the world of high school golf. She is such a supportive and such an experienced coach that I wasn’t worried at all. I was actually really excited to be able to have a second opinion and just another really inspirational voice.”
“She’s seen a bunch of different players throughout high school golf so she knows how to help us on our bad days and how to encourage us on our good days.”
While each coach has their own time slots, Williams hopes that this experience can show her athletes how to succeed in life with an appropriate life balance.
“I also think it’s great evidence for our girls on our team to see you can have a career and a job that you love and be able to do it and also be able to be there for family. So that’s one of the greatest lessons I think that’s coming out of this for our girls to see is that you can do it all.”
And that includes doing their best in the classroom and on the course.
For Naperville Sports Weekly I’m Patrick Codo.