LIBERTY — Taking a slight twist on some famous words by Mark Twain, Forrest Bertoldie, the longtime golf coach at Liberty High School, may just be able to suggest that the rumors of his retirement are greatly exaggerated.
Rather than retire, Bertoldie and his assistant coach, Jason Carr, are swapping roles. Carr will now be the head coach with the start of the fall girls golf season and Bertoldie will be an assistant coach along with Diana Whitley.
“It was a mutual decision that we would switch titles,” Bertoldie said. “It’s not done really frequently, but we have coached together for so long and it has worked well.”
Carr said taking over as head coach continues a friendship and working relationship that has gone on for 15 years.
“He has been my mentor all this time and a great friend,” Carr said. “He has been very successful as a coach and it would be foolish for me not to have him around.”
Carr also praised Bertoldie for treating his assistant coaches as equals.
“We all have input and share all those ideas,” he said. “Why break the band up? I value that Forrest wants to continue contributing.”
Carr said the golf team coaches are each unique.
“I liken it to a puzzle,” he said. “We fit really well. I call Forrest the swing doctor as he helps kids work on their swings. I think I bring a lot to the short game of golf. All three of us work to make things fun for the kids. We are not just here to golf, but hopefully down the road, they keep playing golf because they had a successful and fun time playing at Liberty High School.”
Bertoldie taught in the classroom for 33 years as a full-time teacher, then part-time teacher, instructional aide and when he retired, he turned his time to coaching full time. It’s been 50 years being around teens.
“In many ways I can continue to help Jason with the prep work to go to golf tournaments,” he said. “Golf is one of those sports that takes kids out of school.”
In addition to golf, Bertoldie has coached football, boys and girls basketball and track and field.
“I enjoy teaching the game. I consider myself a golf teacher,” Bertoldie said. “We also instill a respect of the game. Personally, I take the most pride in my relationships with the kids. I think of it all as a blessing. There aren’t a lot of people who work doing the thing they do as a hobby.”
The teams average between 15 to 25 players. Over the years, the golf team has been bounced around from golf course to golf course as clubs have closed.
“I can also say that I’m a bit of a pioneer,” he said. “I started the girls program because I thought it was time for the girls to have the opportunity too. I get to continue with the relationships. The students learn that it takes hard work, manners, a work ethic as it’s not limited to a competitive drive.”
Carr teaches physical education at Shoal Creek Elementary School. He’s been with the district for almost 20 years.
“When I first got here, I coached football for six years and then made the switch to golf,” he said. “Golf to me is so similar to how students learn. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. You have to connect to each player, help them make the right changes so they can have as much success as possible.”