Photo by Bill Roseberry
New Alton golf head coach Zach Deeder has taken over varsity after seven years as the junior varsity coach for the Redbirds.
Zach Deeder bleeds Alton red.
After graduating from AHS in 2001 and playing golf for the Redbirds on the last Alton team to qualify for state in ‘00, Deeder became the junior varsity coach for AHS from 2007-13. When longtime Alton coach Mike Hudock retired after last season, Deeder got the call to the big leagues, taking over as the varsity coach for his beloved Redbirds.
He admitted he paid close attention to Hudock to learn the ropes over the years.
“After seven years of doing the JV, I just kind of shadowed Mike and did the same type of thing he always did,” Deeder said. “I played for Alton High; I was on the last team to go to state. I’ve been around this golf team and school for a long time and I feel pretty comfortable in this situation.”
Deeder got thrown in the fire on Tuesday, as the Redbirds opened the season as the host of the annual Alton Tee-Off Tournament at Spencer T. Olin Golf Club, the first event of the year for AHS. Alton entered two teams in the tournament with its top squad firing a 353 for 11th and its second unit carding a 367 to finish 16th.
Deeder said he’s been a tournament director for a plethora of junior events and JV events, but admitted the stakes are a little higher for a top-notch varsity tourney.
“I’ve run some other tournaments,” he said. “I’ve run a junior golf clinic at Rolling Hills for over a decade and run some JV stuff. I’m used to running tournaments, but there’s a lot more strategy and involvement (at varsity). At the JV level we were just happy nobody got hurt and at this level we’ve got to shoot lower every time and it’s much more ‘golfy,’ if that’s a word you want to use.”
Unfortunately for Deeder, he lost Clint Cress and Joe Schwarz to graduation and Matt Hopkins, another contributor a year ago, is focusing on baseball. He’ll look to three experienced golfers to lead the charge in ‘14 in Alex Rubin, Mitch Klug and Sam Ballard. Rubin carded an 81 Tuesday, good for 12th in the Alton Tee-Off Tourney.
“Three of our top five came back and they’re all playing really well,” Deeder said. “We’re an older team right now. I’ve got eight or nine seniors, three or four juniors and maybe a couple freshmen, so we need to find some younger guys, but it’s a very dedicated group so far.”
Deeder knows he’ll need dedication competing in the rugged Southwestern Conference against annual powers Edwardsville, Belleville West, Collinsville and O’Fallon, among others.
“We’re in the toughest conference in my opinion, especially for golf,” Deeder said. “Our conference is basically all the best schools around here and it’s been good for a really long time, but we’re looking for a good year.”