Journeys: Alumni coach Q-and-A with … Frederick’s Chris DeSantis

DeSantis has coached the girls and boys golf teams for two years

Chris DeSantis

It took more than a decade for Chris DeSantis to return to Frederick. And when he finally did, it continued a golf career that resembles the frustratingly beautiful game itself.

Long since playing at Frederick, the 2007 graduate took over as an assistant coach with the Warriors under Bill Kipp four years ago, then assumed the head role over the girls and boys programs in 2018 when Kipp left for Silver Creek. In each season at the helm, he’s led boys and girls to the state tournament … the place he fell just shy of as a player.

In high school, DeSantis had a good enough game to garner interest from colleges but a trip to state was always just out of reach. At his junior regional, he painstakingly lost the final state spot in a one-hole playoff. Then as a senior, the final spot at state was gone after two extra holes.

Eventually, DeSantis chose to stay close to home for family reasons and attended the University of Northern Colorado. And although he didn’t make the school team, he played in men’s leagues while earning a degree in psychology.

How did your golf journey lead you back to your alma mater to coach boys and girls golf?

“It was a very, very interesting way it actually came about. I was at a Frederick alumni association golf tournament and I was talking with someone about, ‘Hey, I’d like to get into coaching and I really love golf’. And the person was like, ‘Yeah, you know Chad Eisentrager just left to go take the AD job at Mead’. So, I asked who the new golf coach is, and she was like, ‘They haven’t hired one yet’. So, I put my name in for the head coaching job. I didn’t get it the first time around, but the guy that got the job in Bill Kipp actually hired me as his assistant. I was there with him for two years and he made a personal decision to go over to Silver Creek, and it ended up with me ultimately getting the job at Frederick. So, an odd journey to get to my alma mater in a sense.”

Who were some of your main coaching influences in high school, college, etc., and can you talk a bit about how they inspired you to become a coach yourself?

“One of my coaches from high school, my high school golf coach, Scott Sommers. I would always practice by myself when our golf team was not as good, and he knew that I had a lot of potential. He asked me one time to help him with his junior league. His juniors (were) like kindergarten through fifth grade kids, (and) for a community service project I asked him, ‘Well, how do you get into coaching and end up being able to do this?’ And we talked and he was like, ‘Well you do this, and that,’ and I thought, ‘OK’. So, I ended up putting my PGA greens and being a PGA teaching pro on hold when I realized that’s going to be very hard for me to accomplish at that point in my life when I was 18-years-old. I decided from there to go into my career field that I am in right now, and then that last year I decided that I should really try to become a PGA teaching pro. I really like teaching kids, really enjoy the game — It would be a perfect match for me. One of those jobs that I really enjoy doing and that led me back on that path to go after my dream of being a PGA teaching pro. But with the coaching, it gave me that first step towards what I am working towards now and I have enjoyed coaching every year since I started.”

In a profession that can have a lot of turnover and change, how do you see your future in coaching going? Is coaching at Frederick or at the high school level something you see yourself continuing to do long term or is there something else on the horizon?

“I honestly would like to see myself at Frederick for the long haul. I think that the community just gives me reason to stay, one. Two, I really enjoy the kids and it is something that I have been really passionate about. I always knew that somehow, some way I would end up back in Frederick when I was done with college. Took me a decade to get back, but once I did, I’m like, I don’t want to leave this area. It’s a community I grew up in and it’s something that’s really, really growing from an aspect of the community itself and the school. Going from the old Frederick high school before they built the new one that we’re currently in and just knowing — I always told myself, ‘I want to be there one day’. And it just went that way. For the long haul, I’ve jokingly said that they’ll probably have to drag me out of there one day because that’s how long I would like to coach for.”

For players who have already come and gone through the program you’ve coached, or are still around, what do you hope they take away from being part of your program?

“The biggest thing I hope that the student-athletes that have come through my program have taken away is respect and love for the game. I preach all the time to everyone that comes through — ‘You can play football, you can do other stuff, but golf is one of those games that is a life-long sport. If you want to get into it now, it’s a game that you are going to play from now until you are 90-years-old. I use my grandfather as an example. He’s 92, and I say, ‘My grandfather still goes out and golfs and he is 92-years-old’.

If you can pin it down, what is your favorite memory so far from coaching at Frederick?

“There are a lot. I’d say probably the first one with the girls was my first year as the head coach. We didn’t take regionals or runner-up, but we qualified three girls for state my first year and went down to Colorado Springs and had a very, very successful time for us. We had our freshman finish the highest out of the three girls that went and that was the first time a freshman for Frederick golf had qualified for state. Then, just this past fall with the boys, we won our first tournament. With those group of seniors, they were with me from the beginning, from my first year as an assistant to their last year of high school. Just being able to accomplish what we did — we won five tournaments which I don’t ever remember in my time with Frederick as a player. We ended up taking second at regionals and a fourth-place state finish. That is my highlight moment for the boys.”