Bilodeau Prepares for First Season as Boys Golf Coach
Over the past year, Lawrenceville has had to find crafty ways to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over the past year, Lawrenceville has had to find crafty ways to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the fall, there were a number of changes:faculty and students experimented with hybrid setups, routine testing kept the campus relatively Covid-19-free, and online Zoom classes made remote learning possible. Likewise, the Big Red Golf program has had to adapt through a turbulent year. As in-person classes at Lawrenceville make their return this spring, the Big Red Golf Program plans to resume competition with big changes to accompany it, namely the installment of a new head coach, Etienne Bilodeau.
As an avid golfer himself, mathematics teacher, and current Level Director of Circle Houses, Mr. Bilodeau first joined the Lawrenceville Boys Golf Program as an assistant coach under former Head Coach and former Chair of the History Department Tim Doyle. When Doyle retired at the end of the 2018-19 academic year, Bilodeau was promoted to the head coach position, assuming the duties of junior varsity (JV) and varsity roster management (as well as match-to-match changes), player development, and schedule planning with team captains, among other tasks. However, due to the cancellation of an in-person spring term in 2020 and what would have been an inaugural team trip to Florida over spring break, Bilodeau had to wait another year until he could make his competitive debut as the team’s new head coach.
One of the biggest obstacles facing the Boys Golf Team is the change of its home course. Though the course “[didn’t] necessarily play long in yardage,” Bilodeau stated, “it’s one that offers a nice challenge given its configuration,” one that has certainly stumped its fair share of Lawrenceville student-athletes, faculty, and alumni. However, due to the construction of the Tsai Dining and Athletic Center, the once beautiful 8th and 9th holes of Lawrenceville’s home golf course have seen their fair share of modifications, to say the least, leaving the golf program in somewhat of a compromised situation. “It has been a bit of a year in flux—not necessarily because of Covid[-19] but because of the changing landscape of our golf course,” Bilodeau stated. Nonetheless, the majority of Lawrenceville’s course has remained intact, and Bilodeau “[looks] forward to continuing to take advantage of the course.” Bilodeau is confident that the team can adapt to the circumstances: “We all know that we can get very creative with our course,” Bilodeau stated. “If we had to play an inter-squad and host a home match, we would find [some loops] and map out a set of nine holes.”
Another uncertainty of the upcoming season could be the scheduling. Traditionally, the Lawrenceville Boys Golf team opens the season with a match against The Peddie School, with home and away games against The Hill School for “the Crooked Stick” sprinkled in the schedule. However, specific locations and dates have yet to be finalized due to regulations about high school competitions given the Covid-19 situation. Nonetheless, the boys golf team remains ambitious for the season. Coach Bilodeau stated, “I think it’s time we get the Crooked Stick back, and it’s time we defeat Peddie.”
For the upcoming season, one of coach Bilodeau’s biggest priorities is to provide the team a communal experience. “As far as this season is concerned, [I want to] keep providing that opportunity for players to come and gather and improve on their game…both for the short-term and long-term enjoyment of the game,” he stated. He reflects on last fall, where under guidelines such as Best For All Agreement, he managed to organize weekly practices for the golf team. “My main goal is to make [this upcoming season] an extension of what the fall was, but to add a bit of a systematic structure. It’ll be nice to reestablish continuity to what we do on an everyday basis.”
The mark of a true golfer is the ability to adapt situation by situation—whether that be hitting a low stinger to avoid dragging winds, playing putt-by-putt to the green’s lie, or shaping shots to avoid the lanky trees. With a new head coach in Bilodeau, the Lawrenceville Golf program returns this spring after nearly two years without competition, and, like true golfers, they look to retain a team structure while adapting to any situation put in front of them.