Through her work with a traveling PGA Junior League in tournaments, training sessions and camps as the PGA golf professional at The Dalles Country Club, Amy Wilson has seen a burgeoning stockpile of talented golfers rising up the ranks over the years.
Now, she can finally put that expertise to action as the new head coach of The Dalles High School girls’ golf program.
“I couldn't be more excited to coach this group of ladies,” Wilson said. “A few of them have been attending the winter workshop, almost every Saturday for the last three months, which I designed specifically for high school players, so they are getting a solid head start on the season. I am very excited to coach this year. It’s been 20 years since I coached a high school team, so it’ll be a fun challenge to start again.”
Wilson, a 1994 graduate, got her athletic career started at Kelso High School in Washington, where she played volleyball, softball and golf.
As a golfer, Wilson qualified for state in all four years of high school, medaled at districts a couple of times, and had her best state finish of 10th place.
From Kelso, Wilson received a golf scholarship to attend Edmonds Community College and earned a degree in Turfgrass Management.
Originally, she planned to be a golf course superintendent rather than a PGA Professional.
After taking a break from the golf industry, Wilson went back to school and earned a degree in Early Childhood Education, taught at Countryside Montessori in Kirkland, Wash. for four years, until returning to the golf industry at four different golf facilities before coming to The Dalles.
Gaining experience in several areas has been beneficial for Wilson, as she plans to implement many of those elements to build her program.
One of those key aspects involves trust and communication, which Wilson feels are the keys to a successful coach/athlete relationship.
She plans to communicate the way she always has with her athletes, with clear expectations and respect, adding that her main goal is to develop skills on the course and build a confidence they can take off the course.
“A few of the most important characteristics, I believe are essential are good sportsmanship, a positive attitude, respect for players and coaches and a willingness to learn,” Wilson said. “Those are qualities you see in leaders. Although golf is an individual sport, we are still a team. Positivity is contagious and definitely necessary to have a cohesive and happy team.”
Wilson jumps into the coaching mix for long-time coach Dan Telles, and while it is not an easy task to fill Telles’ shoes, Wilson is fixated on working from that blueprint to help the girls attain tournament success down the road.
“Dan Telles has worked hard and did an incredible job building the foundation for a very strong ladies golf program,” Wilson said. “It’s not as important for me to blaze my own trail as it is to use my strengths to build on that foundation.”
In 2016, former TD golfer Iliana Telles ended up tied for second place in her final state appearance, and Wilson is optimistic that her group of Lydia Evans, Samantha Stansbury, Eliana Ortega, Bella Evans, and possibly Jaeden Biehn and Kylan McCavic can put their offseason work to use in a very competitive 5A classification.
Ortega, whose goal was to score less than 100 to achieve success, looks forward to achieving that under coach Wilson.
“I’m super excited for this upcoming season,” Ortega said. “Telles was a great coach and I had a lot of fun getting to be one of his players. I’m hoping for the same from Amy. She’s really enthusiastic and I think that will push us to do as much as we can to improve this season.”
Wilson’s freshmen have been soaking in the knowledge for at least the last three years, so a good relationship has already been established, as Wilson added that they know her expectations and she know what motivates them.
“Two of the freshmen have been working with me all winter, so we will be that much stronger,” Wilson said. “The freshmen have shown some serious potential to be competitive this year. With positive attitudes and a willingness to learn, they’ll only get better through high school.”
Growing up in a small community, spending time in the big city and now living in a very small community in Klickitat, Wash., Wilson knows what community support can do for a team’s confidence.
She is hoping to see that same kind of support here in The Dalles.
“There are many other junior programs I have run that wouldn’t have been as successful as they were without the help from local businesses. Community support is invaluable,” Wilson said. “Having that genuine support makes the coaching experience so much more fulfilling.”