Girls golf: Osborne steps down after 27 years at St. Charles East
The only coach the St. Charles East girls golf team has known has reached the 19th hole.
Rod Osborne, who started the Saints program in 1990, recently announced his retirement. In those 27 seasons, Osborne's teams reached the state tournament 12 years, finishing in the top six 10 times, taking third once, second twice and winning the 1993 and 1999 state championships.
Osborne's first team in 1990 finished .500, and three years later the freshmen on that squad helped the Saints win a state title.
Also an excellent golfer himself, Osborne is still going to be playing quite a bit of golf in his retirement while keeping a close eye on the Saints program he invested so much of his time to help build.
"I like the challenge of golf," Osborne said. "Every day you go out you have a chance to shoot the best score of your career. You keep plugging away at it and you can go out the next day and try it again. You can get a lot of enjoyment out of it and meet a lot of people. It's really been something I've enjoyed all these years and still enjoy it."
Osborne, a St. Charles graduate who started teaching in the district in 1988 and also coached girls basketball, track and middle school cross country, said there are plenty of mixed emotions with his decision.
"I'll miss the kids the most and seeing how much better they can improve themselves from year to year," Osborne said. "And watching them on the course to see what they can do to improve and what we've worked on in practice. And I'll miss the camaraderie with the coaches on the other teams as well."
Osborne said he got hooked on golf when he started playing at age 12. He played on the St. Charles High School golf team that finished second in state and won the school's first state trophy in 1969, then played collegiately at New Mexico.
He was still playing in amateur golf tournaments and teaching when he heard there were a few girls who wanted to start a golf program at St. Charles High School.
"I got the job about 10 days before the season started and I hadn't seen hardly any girls playing golf anywhere," Osborne recalled. "I'm forever grateful to (then athletic director) Jodie Harrison for giving me a chance to do it."
The rest, as they say, is history. After that first team got its feet wet, they worked hard in the offseason and improved all the way to fourth in the state in year two. St. Charles took second in state the following year and then won the state title by 52 shots in its fourth season.
That team included the individual state champion Megan Morgan.
"It was a good core to start with," Osborne said. "They saw they weren't that far behind the rest of the teams and really went after it to prepare for the next season."
Jarod Gutesha has been Osborne's assistant the past 13 years and could end up being his successor.
"He a golf junkie," Gutesha said. "He loves the game. From the fundamentals to the rules, every coach has learned from him whether you coached with him or against him."
Osborne, who will be playing golf in Arizona soon, said he has a picture plaque of every Saints team he coached.
"I'll remember all of them," Osborne said. "I'll miss it I'm sure when the time comes around next August. I'll be checking in with the team in the future I'm sure. I'll try to keep my hand in it a little if I can."