Golf coach gets into the swing of things

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log
The Destin Log

They were off to a good start and it looked as though they might could capture one more county title for Destin Middle School.

However with the cancellation of school as we know it this year due to the coronavirus, the Lady Marlin golf team under Coach Patricia Malpass will never know.

Malpass, who is in her 27th year teaching in Florida, has been at Destin Middle as a math teacher since they opened in 1997 and the golf coach for the last 20 years.

The Lady Marlins have won the county title the last three years and were already looking to do the same again on the links this year

Before spring break, Destin played the Ruckel Rams of Niceville and beat them by 32 strokes, which Malpass said is a good measuring stick for her team.

“They work so hard practicing in the off season to get ready,” Malpass said.

But now, like all the spring sports, the golf team will not get the chance.

Instead they are doing their schooling online while they continue to social distance during the coronavirus.

The Log did a Q&A with Malpass to get a little insight as to how she’s been dealing with online teaching as well as social distancing.

So how has social distancing affected you?

It has reminded me that we can’t take life for granted. This virus has changed our basic way of living. I wear a mask to the grocery store now, stay a safe distance from others and I have washed my hands in the past month more than I have in my entire life. I usually travel to visit my children, grandchildren, and family over spring break, but we canceled that trip to be safe. We have replaced those visits with lots of FaceTime calls, so I’m thankful for technology.

What do you miss most about being at Destin Middle every day?

I miss the students and the teachers I work with, but mostly interacting with the students every day. As crazy as it sounds, I love being with middle school age kids. They are so unique and unpredictable that every day is different and that’s what makes my job so much fun.

How has the transition to an online classroom gone?

It’s crazy to think that our whole county and school switched to online learning in a little over two weeks. We left for spring break on March 12 and online school started on March 30. Our school administration and staff did an amazing job preparing and getting the students ready by giving out laptops, iPads, and whatever they needed for online learning. For me, the transition has been easy because I was familiar with the program we are using. I’m sure it’s been harder on the parents and students to adjust but everyone is doing their best and working hard.

Out of all the postponements and cancellations between pro and college, what sport do you miss the most?

This is not college or pro, but since I coach the girl’s golf team at DMS, I miss watching my girls play golf after school every day. We had just started with our season and had gotten off to a great start playing one match before spring break and now everything is canceled. I feel bad that we couldn’t finish our season, especially for the eighth graders, but being safe and stopping this virus is more important right now.

What does a world without sports, or golf in particular, look like to you?

Sports are such an integral part of our lives that I can’t imagine a world without them. From little league to the pros, whether you play sports or cheer for your favorite team, we are all affected by these cancellations in some form or another. The Masters was postponed until November and they are trying to restart the tour in June without fans, I think. I hope by staying at home and social distancing that sports will return by the fall.

Have you watched or binged anything good?

Yes. I think I’ve watched everything. “Ozark,” “Good Girls,” “Little Fires Everywhere,” “Law and Order” to name a few. I’ve also been re-watching “Friends.” I love that show, it makes me laugh all the time.

Anything else you been doing to stay busy?

I’ve been trying to get out and do at least one thing every day — bike riding, walking the dogs, playing tennis, and doing some home projects at my aunt’s house.

With all the “at home” time right now, which is your favorite meal of the day- breakfast, lunch, or dinner?

I just kind of snack all day so I don’t have a favorite meal. We tried making our own sushi from Harbor Docks, which was fun, but I need more practice rolling sushi. It did not look like the same sushi I get at Harbor Docks, but it was still delicious.

Go to snack?

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, BBQ potato chips, and gobstoppers. I wish I could list more healthy snacks, but it wouldn’t be true.

What kind of advice have you offered your team or students dealing with the pandemic?

I have told my students to not get overwhelmed with their online school. Just work a few lessons each week and everything will work out. I know some of my golfers are social distancing at the golf course, so just keep practicing to be ready for when we do return. We don’t know how long this is going to last or when we will be able to return to “normal,” so stay home, stay safe, spend time with your family, and I look forward to seeing everyone when it is safe to return.

Omny -