Q&A: New boys’ golf coaches look to improve team


Jonny Ratner

New coaches Mike Groccia (right) and Brian Calnan (middle) discuss the upcoming match against Leominster with teeam captian senior Kevin Henderson (left).

Ava Aymie and Laura Anderson

This season, the boys’ golf team has two new coaches, head coach Mike Groccia and assistant coach Brian Calnan. As of Oct. 25, the team’s record is 7-7-1

How do you feel about your first season as new coaches?

Groccia: “First season’s been a lot of fun. Definitely a learning experience. I helped out last year on a volunteer basis, so I certainly had a little bit of a head start, but being the head coach for the first time definitely some curveballs have been thrown our way, but it’s been a lot of fun and we’ve learned a lot and we’ve adapted”

Calnan: I think for me it’s been a nice way to kind of get back to working with students a little more directly after leaving the math classroom and starting in technology, kind of like Mr. Groccia. It’s a good way to connect with students and  some of them I had in class in the past and I enjoyed that part of it

What led you to want to be the new golf coaches?

Calnan: Well, Mr. Groccia invited me to join him, so that’s the reason I wanted to join

Groccia: “[I asked] Mr. Calnan to be my assistant and help out. I was on the Algonquin golf team my junior and senior year, and I had a very good relationship with my coach, who was actually the coach I replaced, and when he reached out last year to see if I wanted to help him out because he was thinking about maybe stepping down after the year, much like Mr. Calnan, I was not in the classroom and not having a group of students anymore, I was looking forward to the opportunity to work with young adolescence again.

How has the team helped you adjust to your new role?

Groccia: “I’ve relied heavily on a lot of upperclassmen, especially [senior] captain Kevin Henderson. He has been on the team for a couple of years and he is very knowledgeable having his own experiences in having older brothers on the team as well so he has been good with just bouncing quick ideas off of. Always willing to offer his ideas on what he thinks will be beneficial for the team. He has been a great leader in that sense and a great help to me and coach Calnan.”

Calnan: “I totally agree.”

Have you had any previous coaching experience?

Groccia: I coached middle school basketball teams, girls and boys, and the Melican Baseball team for about five or six years each so I definitely had experience coaching, not at the high school level and certainly not at the varsity level. Working with student-athletes is kind of the same regardless of the age level, obviously, the competitiveness and seriousness does increase at the high school level but I’ve had experience coaching.

Calnan: At my other high school I coached JV and varsity soccer I coached the math team at this school and the other schools and coached my own kids. I’ve really enjoyed coaching at the varsity level at my previous school, but this is my first opportunity to do so here at Algonquin. I really enjoy coaching, feel it is a great venue for connecting with students and seeing their growth.

What new strategies have you employed this year to improve the team?

Groccia: “Having helped out last year I kinda had an idea what they were doing during practices, This year I really tried to have the kids focus on gathering data and stats mostly about their putting and having them pick up on little areas where they can improve upon. Coach Calnan has been very helpful with gathering data and stats and analyzing them and putting them into numbers that we were able to share with the students to help them.”

Calnan: “As a former math teacher I was very excited to use some spreadsheets and kind of look at the data and help put the students in a position to succeed.”

When did you both start golfing?

Groccia: I started playing golf when I was 10 or 11, my dad took me out,  I didn’t get serious with gold until I was 16. I was working at Juniper Hill Golf Course and a lot of the guys on the golf team worked there as well. I started playing with them after work shifts and they encouraged me to try out for the team my junior year. Ever since then I have been kind of a self-proclaimed golf nerd.

Calnan: My dad took me a couple of times when we were younger but I was never really into it until six years ago or so. I don’t play that often, having young children make it a little hard to get out there. 

What are you looking forward to in the future as golf coaches?

Calnan: “I look forward to seeing the underclassmen develop. Mr. Groccia has worked with them in the past and he sees the student who was a junior now and sees the leaps and bounds that they have improved. I want to see over the course of the next two or three years to see the players develop and gain confidence in their game and in their performance in matches.”

Groccia: “Watching the student-athletes grow and continue to improve in their skills. I’m also looking forward to just work with student-athletes, as I don’t have that as a regular, not having classrooms of students anymore. Being another adult that they can have a conversation with, just being someone there as a positive role model for them.”