Lagerbom lauded as KVAC golf coach of year

By Tim Collins Downer | Nov 24, 2006
Photo by: Tina Shute Chip Lagerbom

Belfast — After leading the Belfast Area High School golf team to a fourth-place finish in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, Chip Lagerbom was chosen by his peers as KVAC coach of the year.

The Lions just missed qualifying for the Class B state championship meet. Two of the top three teams in the state competed in KVAC: eventual state champion Winslow High School and Lincoln Academy, the No. 3 team in Class B.

“We were able to hold our own with every team in the league,” said Lagerbom, who teaches world and U.S. history at BAHS.

The Lions were within striking distance of Winslow until the end of the regular-season match. Their best low-four came within seven strokes of the Black Raiders.

The blue-and-gold also lost a tiebreaker with Lincoln Academy.

“I think that was reflected in the choice when the coaches voted,” he said.

Lagerbom cited the stellar performances of the team’s student-athletes, including Josh Nougaret, Noah Goldstein, Doug Martens, Andy Feener, Dustin Lindsey and A.J. Chasse, as the other main reasons why his peers selected him for the award.

The BAHS coach was a fine player, as well. He qualified for the state individual championships as a junior at Lyons High School in Lyons, Kansas. “I went and I participated,” he laughed. “We’ll leave it at that.”

Lagerbom graduated from high school in 1982 and earned a bachelor's degree from Kansas State University four years later. In 1991, he received a master's degree in history and archaeology from the University of Maine.

In Orono, Lagerbom lived next door to a student studying glacial biology who was completing his master's degree by doing fieldwork at the South Pole. His neighbor, said Lagerbom, was "looking for people to do grunt work."

Lagerbom decided to help his friend with that grunt work, a move that changed his life. He was based at a remote field camp, which he said was “a good study in isolation. I learned a lot about myself and about the special-ness of the continent."

Lagerbom became so interested in Antarctica that he wrote a book about explorer Henry R. Bowers titled, “The Fifth Man: Henry R. Bowers.”

Bowers, who took part in Robert F. Scott’s doomed expedition to the South Pole in the early 1900s, died on the return trip.

Lagerbom, who lives in Belfast with his wife, Jennifer and two children, 6-year-old Charlie and 3-year-old Audrey, is the national membership chairman of the American Polar Society and the historian for the Antarctican Society.

A slide show he has of the South Pole is in high demand. Recently, Lagerbom took part in a 21-day cruise through the Antarctic Peninsula, during which he taught the history of the area. As passionate as Lagerbom is about the South Pole, he said golf is also right up there on the list of things that he most enjoys.

His first job as a golf coach was in 1993, as an assistant at his high school. It wasn’t long after he moved to Maine and began teaching at Troy Howard Middle School that Paul Dudley, then the pro at Northport Golf Club, asked him if he was interested in restarting the BAHS golf program, which had been cut in the 1980s.

NGC was instrumental in helping the program to be successful in its first two years, 1995 and 1996. Lagerbom was a volunteer coach those years. A group of anonymous donors started a fund, from which a coaching stipend was paid. They also purchased the team shirts. NGC allowed the squad to use the course free of charge, which it still does to this day.

When Lagerbom presented the idea of making low-cost golf an official team sport at BAHS, it was almost immediately approved.

He said the 2006 squad ranks as one of the best he’s ever coached. A number of excellent individual golfers have teed it up for the Lions, including Nougaret, Martens, Jesse Johnson, Nick Faulkingham and Chad Place, who all qualified for the state Class B championship.

“I’ve had some really good golfers through the years that maybe didn’t qualify [for states], for whatever reason,” said Lagerbom.

“We’ve always tried to be competitive,” he added. “My goal for the program was too make it a competitive program, not a learning program.”

Every year, however, there are players who try out with limited or no playing experience. That, said Lagerbom, is not a problem.

“My goal every year is to get the guys to understand more about the game involving course management,” said Lagerbom. “What’s the better way to play a situation? Sometimes that may involve hitting the ball back.”

A youth golf program that he helps with each summer at the Waldo County YMCA has helped to strengthen the incoming crop of linksters. Nougaret and Goldstein were the first members of that program to take part on the high school squad.

Lagerbom was impressed by the professional nature with which the BAHS golfers approached the game. Lagerbom also teaches the players about golf etiquette, and he said the 2006 team learned those lessons well.

“[This year's team] was a good mix of ages,” Lagerbom said. “We had good senior leadership and some good, young guys coming in. They all worked well together.”

Between his family, teaching at Belfast Area High School, and his passion for the South Pole, Lagerbom is a busy man.

But coaching golf, he said, will continue to be part of his life for the foreseeable future. “I’m planning to stick around with the golf program as long as I can,” said Lagerbom. “I really enjoy it.”
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