New Verrado golf coach brings plenty of experience

Verrado golfer Cade Seymour practices August 28 before their match Tuesday against Youngker. (West Valley View photo by Ray Thomas)

By Casey Pritchard

Danny Gamboa may be new to coaching at Verrado, but he has experience to back him up.

Gamboa, the Vipers’ new boys golf coach, led high school varsity basketball, football and golf teams in El Paso, Texas, from 1997 to 2008. Now, he’s dedicated to sending a promising group of Verrado athletes to the state tournament.

“I’m extremely excited. That’s why I took the job,” said Gamboa, who teaches Spanish at Verrado. “The only thing that was a drawback was we didn’t have enough golfers. We had eight, and three were returning. Now, I have 22 golfers, which is great.”

Gamboa said he doesn’t know exactly why so many golfers decided to join the team this year, but his three years of teaching at Verrado, as well as his job as head coordinator for Excel Youth Sports in Verrado, might have something to do with it.

“Some of these kids, I’ve coached since they were 6, 7 years old, because I’ve been in the community,” Gamboa said. “I try to make it fun for them, especially golf. I think the kids are excited about joining. I told them, as long as you try hard, you’re here at practice, you respect the course and you’re passing your classes, you’re going to be OK.”

Of the 22 golfers, only six or seven have played before, Gamboa said. Even though most are new to the sport, Gamboa said he just needs time to help them improve.

“We have some good kids at Verrado,” Gamboa said. “They want to learn, and they’re willing to put in the time. With golf, what you put in is what you get. I can help you, and the rest is on your own: work on hitting the ball, and before you know it, you won’t have to look where the ball goes, you feel where the ball goes.”

Verrado had two players make the Division II state tournament last year, but one graduated. The returner is senior Brennan White, who will be the Vipers’ No. 1 player. He shot a 74-78 – 152, tying for 24th at state last year.

“Brennan White is going to be our leader,” Gamboa said. “He’s a scratch golfer, and he’s playing some good ball right now. “He’s willing to learn, he listens. It’s good when they’re confident, but willing to learn.”

Cade Seymour is a returning sophomore and is in a battle with Chaz Hunter for the No. 2 spot on the team. Seymour’s confidence is the biggest thing Gamboa is trying to work on.

“I think sometimes he gets flustered,” Gamboa said. “His strength, I would say, is not tenacity, but persistence … he’s not going to quit. That’s golf, one day you have it, one day you don’t. He’s just got to work on his consistency.”

Hunter’s strength is that he doesn’t get rattled.

“He’s very relaxed,” Gamboa said. “He reminds me of a perfect golfer. He doesn’t let anything bother him and just goes out and has fun.”

The Vipers’ No. 4 golfer is Zachary Frye. He shot 39 at one of the Vipers’ first matches.

“That’s pretty good for a freshman,” Gamboa said. “I look to getting some strokes down for him, and we can get him to where Brennan is at.”

One thing Gamboa has emphasized with his golfers is the importance of focusing on every single shot during the round.

“I tell the new kids, every shot, it’s like two seconds left in a basketball game and you’re at the free throw line, you’re going to hit the game winner,” Gamboa said. “Every shot is that hard. The best I ever shot, I still never felt like I mastered the game. Some days you’re on, some days you’re off.”

Gamboa’s goal for the Vipers this year is to finish better than last year, which would be getting the team to the state tournament. Verrado didn’t qualify for state as a team last year, marking the first time since 2012 that didn’t happen. The Vipers were sixth at state in both 2014 and 2015.

“It’s a smaller goal, I didn’t want to get it too high, but I want everybody to improve and I think if we have five strong, I think we can take it to state,” Gamboa said.

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