“This is a bucket-list trip for an 80-year-old man who is a golfer,” quips Nunzio Corrente, head coach of the St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) Golf team. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Except this opportunity involves 10 students from grades 10, 11 and 12, along with two coaches --- all poised to set foot in the ‘home of golf’ --- the Old Course at St Andrews, in Scotland.
“Walking on the same course that golf legends have been walking on for 500 years, the kids are pretty excited,” says Corrente, a Core Intermediate teacher at SMCS.
The eight-day trip combines a wide variety of experiential learning opportunities including tours of the University of St. Andrews and its golf facilities, a visit through the east coast Scottish town with a population of just over 16,000. And the opportunity to play at seven different courses at St. Andrews, as well as Carnoustie, which hosted the British Open in 2018.
“We’ve got some very talented golfers who will be playing at the next level in the United States,” says Corrente. “Some of them may use this as a springboard. We have a potential pro in the group.”
The trip has been in the works for nine months, with logistics support courtesy of SMCS alumnus Chase McCarthy ’14, who attends the University of St. Andrews and is an avid golfer. He will also be speaking to the students about his experience studying abroad and playing a sport he is passionate about.
“This is an experience not many people are lucky enough to get and for that, I am extremely grateful to the (school) administration, the golf program, and my parents,” says Noah Rondinone, a Grade 11 student, member of the Golf team and one of the students who will be on the trip.
“Golf is a rising sport at St. Michael’s. It’s quite popular especially at the Grade 9 and 10 level,” says Corrente, a coach of the team since 2010.
“We have six boys who are ranked in the top 55 in Ontario, at the under-16 level. And these guys are true student-athletes. They’re all very good students. School does come first and they’re able to balance both really well,” he says, adding, “the golf team grows when there’s opportunity for the boys to be showcased and play at the next level.”
Sixteen-year-old Noah Rondinone says he could not imagine his life without the sport. “It is hard to deny that golf is one of the most challenging sports in the world, this means that there is always room for improvement,” he says. “In golf you need to have the mental toughness to bounce back when you have had a bad shot. There is something very intriguing to me about that concept. Playing the ball where it lies is symbolic for being in tough situations in life, but being able to face the challenge rather than being afraid or running away,” he says.
The students will be staying in rooms at the university.
“They’ll be learning how to persevere through fatigue and travel but the other part is the life part of it,” says Corrente. “They’re going to be doing their laundry, and making sure their rooms are clean, and being on time. The bus is going to be there and they need to be ready to go. Those are all life lessons that they’re going to learn.”
The SMCS Junior Golf Team won the Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Athletic Association (CISAA) championships in the 2018-19 season.
The SMCS Blue Eagles Varsity Golf Trip takes place from June 15-24, 2019, in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.