St. Anthony head golf coach Phil Zaccari checks his mail at school without much fanfare. Sitting in his mail slot last Friday, was a letter sent from the Illinois High School Association like a specter haunting the living.
Normally when a letter arrives from the Illinois High School Association it’s not a good sign.
“When you get a letter from them, it’s ‘Crap, what did I do?’” Zaccari said.
The letter announced the four-time state champion coach had been name the 2018-2019 IHSA Golf Coach of the Year.
“Wow, cool!” Zaccari said was his first thought after reading it.
The letter written by IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson reads in part, “It is my pleasure to inform you that you have been selected by the Administration Staff at the Illinois High School Association to receive the 2018-2019 Boys Golf Coach of the Year Award. Your selection to receive this prestigious award is based upon the positive work that you have done with the athletes in your program. Congratulations! We at the IHSA are proud to submit your name to the National Federation of State High School Associations who sponsors the award.”
“We don’t get into this for awards. It’s nice to get but it’s not why we coach,” said Zaccari. “We prepare kids for life events. It’s what we try to do since sports mirror life and its successes. That’s what we try to teach.”
Zaccari notes that some of his athletes have become doctors and lawyers.
Recent Bulldog graduate and current Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville golfer Luke Ludwig is thankful for his tutelage.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better coach in high school. I learned a lot throughout my four years of golf,” said Ludwig. “I have coach Zaccari to thank for that. And to top my career off with a state championship is something that I will never forget.”
He will now be competing against other coaches for a sectional award and possibly a national award, but admits it’s admirable yet he still has coaching to focus on.
“It’s nice and everything,” Zaccari said. “but I’m still in the middle of the season trying to make the postseason.”
Zaccari said St. Anthony’s athletic director/assistant principal Kevin Palmer and principal Greg Fearday ‘were very happy’ at hearing of the award. On Monday, Fearday announced over the public address system to the school of the IHSA’s recognition of Zaccari’s achievement.
Adding this to the 17 regional titles, 7 sectional titles, 16 state final appearances with one third place, two second place finishes, four state championships, and most recently in May when he was named into the Illinois Coaches Association Golf Hall of Fame, Zaccari laughed at the humorous suggestion of renegotiating his contract and said “I’m a golf coach, I play one hole at a time.”