Grant Success Story
Disc Golf Field Day for Physical Educators - Article by Dr. Justin Menickelli
On October 23, 2009 we hosted a disc golf workshop at Western Carolina University with funding from an innovation grant from the Professional Disc Golf Association.
Twenty-two physical education teachers participated in a day of fun, fitness, and education. Our goal was to educate physical educators in western North Carolina on the health, physical fitness, sportsmanship, and environmental stewardship opportunities that disc golf affords. We provided them with the knowledge and basic skills necessary to teach disc golf and encouraged schools in our region to include disc golf in their school’s physical education curriculum. We exposed the teachers that participated and ultimately the over five-thousand young people they teach to the great sport of disc golf.
Despite the immense popularity of disc golf and the increasing number of great disc golf courses in our region, we discovered that very few of the teachers had experience with disc golf. Their lack of familiarity only seemed to fuel their enthusiasm and good natured competitiveness. Dr. Chris “CTP” Tuten often wowed the group with his beautiful mid-range anhyzer and sharp putting skills. The participants closely shadowed his demonstrations - asking him a barrage of questions about stance, grip and release. Good questions and new discs were flying in every direction. Big smiles and hearty laughter set the tone for the day.
We played about every type of modified game one could imagine. Even before the workshop began, many folks naturally stood behind the twenty foot circles we had drawn around a few putting baskets and began challenging each other to putting contests. The many versions of ring-of-fire elicited a lot of enjoyment and challenge. Toward the end of the field day, we played Disc-Lacrosse - a game found in the “Getting the EDGE” curriculum. The aerobic component to the game left even the fittest folks a little breathless.
The natural beauty of our campus disc golf course drew a lot “oos” and “aahs.” The participants, particularly those familiar with ball golf, grasped the basic rules and strategies of disc golf with ease. Folks learned that disc golf has a real fitness element as they navigated the steep fairways at Catamount Links. The women’s foursome was perhaps the most enthusiastic and competitive. Sarah Lowell, a former NC Physical Education Teacher of the Year, summed it up best when she stated “Hey, I pared that hole! This is great!”
The feedback provide in our post-workshop assessment was even better than we expected. Reponses such as “the disc course was a blast” and “I am definitely using this stuff” dotted the workshop evaluations. Seventy-two hours after the workshop, a physical education program from Asheville, NC purchased an EDGE package and discs.
The project afforded a unique opportunity for collaboration between a regional university and local schools. Our objective was to provide physical educators in our region the fundamentals needed to teach the great sport of disc golf. By doing so, we hope more young people become familiar with the sport and the community resources that are readily available. Ultimately, we rediscovered something we already knew – once “turned on” to the sport of disc golf, people simply fall in love with it.
We must extend a special thanks to all the helpful folks at the PDGA and to David Shope from INNOVA/EDGE.
For information and details on the PDGA Innovation Grant program visit: http://www.pdga.com/innovation-grant