BY CHAD DARE
When Bismarck-Henning decided to restart its golf program, the Blue Devils turned to one of its own.
Terry French, who played golf at Bismarck-Henning in the 1970s, has built the program into one of the area’s premier teams.
Right after this past year’s state tournament, French discovered that he was named the 2011 IHSA Golf Coach of the Year, and he is in the running for National Coach of the Year that will be announced later this month.
“I was extremely shocked when I opened the letter,’’ French said. “I had my wife, Bobbette, also read it to make sure that I was reading it right.
“Never did I imagine that I would be nominated for that kind of honor, let alone win it.’’
In his 11 years at Bismarck-Henning, the Blue Devils have had 11 winning seasons, six conference titles, five regional championships, a pair of sectional crowns and the only state tournament trophy in Bismarck-Henning school history — a second-place finish a year ago.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have some very talented players,’’ said French, stating this award was a team honor. “I’ve always believed that best players make the best coaches. This is a credit to all the players that have played for me over the years — past and present.’’
But, how did French, who works at Danville Metal Stamping, get into coaching high school golf?
“My name came up when they were thinking about reviving the program because I had played there and I was helping some people with their games,’’ French said. “I then had an interview with Tom Johnson and decided to give it a try. I leaned on (former Westville coach) Mike Langston quite a bit and we were 9-8 in our first year.’’
But, it wasn’t quite what French expected when he got started.
“There is a lot more to it than just coaching golf,’’ he said. “I’ve always tried to teach my kids about respect, handling themselves with class both on the golf course and off, and working hard. If I’m able to get them to do those things, good things will happen.’’
It’s something that junior David Warren has learned in his three seasons with coach French.
“Terry is a really cool guy,’’ Warren said. “He is always there for you, whether it’s golf or just life in general.’’
French also pointed out that he couldn’t be the Bismarck-Henning coach without support from his family, his employer along with the players and their families.
“There are a lot of great people that have always been there for me,’’ French said. “I just want to be there for the kids.’’