Northside High School
by Mike Peacock
photography by Jerry Christenson
Northside Golf Coach John Drew A True Ace In The Hole
Northside golf coach John Drew is not your typical high school coach. Drew started his working life in law enforcement as a Muscogee County police officer, working out of the sheriff’s office. It was then that a good friend and the godfather of his children began to pressure him to get into coaching.
“My children’s godfather was Alvin “Pig” Davis, who was a great coach around here for many years. He kept after me to go into coaching, so I finally went back to school and got my education courses done and went to work as a coach back in 1979,” Drew says. “I love it. I wouldn’t still be doing it if I didn’t love it so much.”
Drew went to work at Hardaway High School as a football coach. He still has a hand in coaching football, serving on the staff of Paul Cates at NHS. He coached at Hardaway for 11 years, serving as head coach and athletic director for his last few years there. He left in 1990, moving to Columbus High School where he would stay for 18 years. He made the move to Northside four years ago along with Cates.
Drew made his first foray into high school golf 15 years ago at Columbus High, becoming the school’s first girls golf coach.
“Girls golf was starting at Columbus and they needed someone to coach it. I was the only one that did not have anything in the spring and also the only one who had played much golf, so I volunteered,” he says.
Drew has coached many different sports, including basketball, track, boys and girls golf, football, and softball. He started the softball program at Hardaway. Drew has seen high school golf in Columbus develop into a very competitive sport.
“When I was at Hardaway, Larry Gaither had the best golf program around here and it was really the only one here that was truly competitive and won consistently,” Drew says. “Over the years, though, other programs have really come on and built programs and become competitive, especially in boys golf. I don’t think girls golf has progressed as it should, and I think it is because it hasn’t been pushed enough, but several schools have really improved the high school golf in this area.”
Drew retired from teaching five years ago but remained as a coach, assuming the role of head golf coach at Northside upon his arrival there. He quickly helped transform the program into a very competitive one in a school system known to produce very good high school golf.
“You are not going to have success anywhere without kids who want to get better and who are willing to work at it. When I got to Northside, we had kids who had never played much in tournaments, and that is all we do now is play in tournaments. We don’t do any match play. We had a great group of kids who graduated last year who worked extremely hard for three years and finished seventh, fourth, and third in the state in those three years. They were finished second in the region as juniors and won the region as seniors,” he says.
“Those guys set the foundation for what we have going on, it has been good. We have been able to have a lot of boys come out for the team and that keeps us a good competitive base. We have several good freshman players coming out this year, and we are going to be a young team this year, but they have good examples to follow. We are looking forward to it.”
Drew has seen youth golf have a big impact on the quality of play in the high schools.
“A lot of these kids play with and against each other from the time they are just youngsters. Columbus has a lot of great golf courses to play on and these boys play with their dads and then get involved in youth golf and play in tournaments. Then the junior high program came into being with Brian Stubbs at Country Club of Columbus running that program and that has also made a big impact on high school golf by allowing us high school coaches to keep up with the seventh- and eighth-graders, so it has come a long way,” he says.
When asked about the most important job of a coach, Drew detailed several aspects. “There are so many jobs a coach has,” he says. “You want your players to have fun but you want them to work hard and it is awfully hard to do both at the same time. You have to love kids and care about them. Building character is awfully important. You have to know what they are going through and feel it. It is very hard to feel what they are going through if you have never experienced it. You have to be there for them, you have to be a daddy, a brother, an uncle all rolled into one and be there for them. If you do that, they will never forget you and you will never forget them.”