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High school sports

Back in swing: Wallace returns as Windjammer golf coach

He led Camden Hills to back-to-back state Class B champions in previous stint
By Mark Haskell | Jul 29, 2020
Courtesy of: Mark Wallace Camden Hills golf coach Mark Wallace.

Rockport — Years after guiding Camden Hills Regional High School to back-to-back state Class B golf championships, Mark Wallace is back in the saddle.

After a five-year reprieve, Wallace officially has returned as the school’s varsity golf coach, as he replaces coach Paul MacDonald, who guided the Windjammers those five years.

Previously, Wallace coached the Windjammer golf team 2003 to 2014, where he led Camden Hills to back-to-back state Class B championships in his final two years.

“We’re really fortunate to have Mark on board as our golf coach,” said Camden Hills athletic director Jeff Hart. “He’s a proven commodity, he teaches at the school and he’s a great role model for all of our student-athletes.”

In addition, Wallace, who has been a teacher at CHRHS 19 years, has never had a losing season in his years coaching the Windjammers.

The 48-year-old Northport resident graduated from Dexter Regional High School in 1990. He played football, basketball, baseball and golf while roaming as a Tiger, though he only played football his freshman year (until the golf program was reinstated as a sophomore).

Later, he gave up baseball for spring golf with the Maine Junior Golf Association as “I just couldn’t make the separate swings work and golf seemed like a more promising path.”

Wallace said despite qualifying for individual championships each season in Maine Junior Golf, “I didn’t really stand out in the crowd,” but “found a great deal more success” after graduating high school and moving onto the University of Maine in Farmington.

“We were fortunate to draw quality players from around the state,” he said. “Prior to arriving, UMF had played in numerous national championships.  After a building year, we continued to go on to nationals for the next three years and I was able to play TPC Sawgrass, Tulsa Country Club, etc.  We were never really contenders in the big picture as we generally only had a handful of rounds prior to competing but we were very successful in our region for years taking consecutive conference titles.”

Wallace landed his first coaching job in 1998, where he was named the golf coach at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford. Participation on the team was low initially, but by 2000, he had more than 20 golfers on the team, many of whom were significantly developing their games.

Then, Wallace was named golf coach at Camden Hills in 2003, taking over for coach Chris Christie (who was recently named the new Camden Hills football coach) and “inherited a very strong team that had some players from the prior year that had won the Class B state championship.”

For his first decade coaching with the Windjammers, Wallace said they had “a lot of strong individuals, but we couldn’t seem to put all the pieces together at once.” Those pieces began to come together in 2012 while Camden Hills won its first Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship under Wallace’s tutelage and the state Class B title the following two seasons.

Now, Wallace has made his return to the coaching links, as he hopes to continue to mentor youths off the tee and to the green.

However, it will take longer than originally anticipated after the Maine Principals’ Association announced it has pushed back the start of the fall season due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, with the first day of tryouts/practices now on Monday, Sept. 8.

“We won’t be able to start until late and our regular season is generally very short to begin with,” said Wallace. “I’ll be very interested to see what decisions are made. I think my biggest concern about the season is whether or not we end up going all or nothing with sports. It would be hard to justify golf at the high school and not other sports that are less COVID-friendly. At the very least, I hope we can still work as a team and build skills together even if competition ends up being a wash.”

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