How a photo sparked a golf outing fundraiser in memory of a beloved coach
It was a letter offering condolences that sparked everything.
Among the many cards and letters the family of Mount Prospect native Jimmy Horan received after his sudden death in March 2017 from a car accident was a card from the golf team at Proviso East High School.
Included was a photo of the boys and girls on the team and a small donation to the family's designated charity.
Horan had retired in 2016 from Hinsdale Central High School, where he had taught English and Latin, moderated the guitar club and was an assistant coach on its golf team -- the same golf team that just wrapped up its sixth consecutive Class 3A state championship last fall.
"As I looked at the Proviso East team photo, it hit me that all of the golfers were in gym shoes," says Horan's brother, Terry, of Arlington Heights. "I figured this must be an under-resourced program, and wouldn't it be great to take this team under our wing as a family. We could outfit them with everything they could ever hope for to compete and win in the future."
That was the start. They started organizing a golf outing, "The JIMMY," which will take place June 4 at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer, Jimmy Horan's favorite course. They hoped to draw 48 golfers, and now have hit their maximum with 105.
Donations started pouring in and the family firmly believes they will be able to outfit the Pirates from Proviso East with new golf clubs, bags, shoes, team shirts and anything else they need to enhance the program.
Gerald Holmes, head coach, says he is thrilled, and he knows their donation will make a difference.
"At least our students will have the equipment to start playing on a level playing field as teams like Hinsdale Central," says Holmes, a 2001 graduate of Proviso East, who played golf at the school.
The Pirates compete in the same conference as Hinsdale Central, the Mid Suburban League West Conference, where Holmes figures they haven't had a winning record in nearly 40 years.
Things are looking up, Holmes says. For the first time, possibly in the history of their program, one of their golfers, Lauryn Craine-Farries of Broadview, will play at the next level.
She placed second at the Mid Suburban League West conference match last fall and was named to its All-Conference Academic team.
She now will play golf at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri, after being accepted to 27 colleges, she says proudly.
Holmes coached 12 golfers this year -- including boys and girls -- all of whom had never played the game before entering high school. This year, five will graduate and six plan on returning.
"It's as much teaching as it is coaching," Holmes says. "We teach them the rules, etiquette and philosophy of the game, as well as softer skills like communication, problem solving and teamwork."
This is only the second season that Holmes has coached the team. He is assisted by Glenn Lid, a retired Proviso East teacher and hall of fame wrestling coach.
Although Holmes never met Jimmy Horan, he knows of the fine program he helped to build at Hinsdale Central and of his philosophy that his players respect the game and their opponents.
"We're so appreciative," Holmes says. "It just goes to show you that the game of golf can bring out the best in people."