Gorman: Steering golf at the 'Port
When it comes to driving and golf, Joe Bower is as good behind the wheel as he is off the tee.
As a part-time school bus driver, Bower watched McKeesport's matches from a golf cart before becoming the school's coach.
“I knew the program was floundering and very close to the verge of extinction,” said Bower, 63. “I've played competitively in leagues for 50 years. That's it. I'm not a teacher. I'm not a pro. But I know enough about golf that I can teach these kids something.”
In only its second season under Bower, McKeesport has doubled its win total. After going winless last season, when six of the 10 players were freshmen, the Tigers already have beaten East Allegheny and Allderdice.
The sport isn't exactly synonymous with McKeesport, athletic director Charley Kiss said, but Bower has put golf on the school's radar.
“It was never really a thing McKeesport kids did for the most part,” Kiss said. “For years, it was just trying to get seven to have a team. It's a little bit different now. There's competition for those spots.”
Bower has organized summer workouts, a booster club and found equipment for his players, some of whom he shares with the baseball, soccer and girls volleyball teams.
“Joe's a committed guy. He enjoys the game,” Kiss said. “Anything that Joe does, he has a sense of urgency about him. Just to have somebody who cares what's going on trickles down to the kids, who see it.”
And there's another perk ...
“One thing I don't have to worry about when we have a golf match,” Kiss said, “is whether the bus is going to show.”