Lindsay Waack could not have imagined a more unlikely debut as a high school coach.
On Monday, the new head coach of the Fairfield Ludlowe girls golf team found herself at Silvermine Golf Club, her home course, about to open the season against Wilton, her alma mater.
And the man coaching the Warriors was none other than her father and golf mentor, Stuart Waack.
“For me it’s pretty insane that the first match that I’m coaching as a coach is at the club that I’ve bascially grown up at, against my father,” said Lindsay, a 2011 Wilton High graduate, former player for the WHS boys team and assistant coach at Wilton that previous two seasons. “It’s pretty cool.”
“We’re two competitive people and I know she would love to beat me. I don’t want to beat her. I just don’t want to lose to her,” said Stuart before the match. “I’m very happy that a coach Waack is going to win today.”
He added that the match was of big interest among family members and Silvermine members — and was resigned to the fact that people would be pulling for Lindsay in her debut.
“It’s amazing to me how nobody is rooting for the dad. They’re all rooting for the daughter. Every single person,” he joked. “It’s a lonely experience.”
In the end, it was Wilton that prevailed, 177 to 218.
But for Stuart, the day belonged to his daughter.
“I couldn’t be happier. I’m just so proud,” he said. “To see her perpetuate (girls golf) and be a head coach of a girls program at Ludlowe and continue to grow and support the game for girls in the area, it doesn’t get any better than that for me.”
Growing the game has always been a mission for Waack, who got the Wilton girls program off the ground four years ago. Over that time, the Warriors’ numbers have nearly doubled, with 18 girls expressing interest this spring.
That was hardly the case when Lindsay was at WHS. There was no girls team back them, and she played two seasons on the boys team and then didn’t play her last two years.
“When I was there I struggled to get two or three girls that were interested. The fact that in the eight years since I’ve been in that building it went from nonexistant to having 18 girls show up, I’m so happy and proud of him,” she said. “He’s so passionate about junior golf. That’s somethign I’ve seen all my life.”
Lindsay, the eldest of two Waack daughters, got her start in golf at Silvermine, located on the Norwalk-Wilton border, where her father has been head pro for 19 years. He has been the only coach she’s ever had.
“She was problaby four or five years old (when she started playing). She learned playing here and knows everyone here. She worked here. She was my shop girls for years,” said Stuart.
Lindsay had not planned on coaching this year. She graduated from the University of Connecticut last year and was in her first year of teaching freshman earth science at Ludlowe. But when the position was still unfilled in March, she decided to take the step.
“The head coaching thing was by no means my intention. But I didn’t want to turn down that opporuntity. It was something I wanted to be a part of,” she said. “Part of the reason why I felt comfortable taking the position was because I knew I would have him as a mentor, to help me through some of those initial questions.”
The influence of her father has been evident to her as she works with her players at Ludlowe.
“I was with them on the range one day and I just like heard coming out of my mouth what I’ve heard from my dad,” she said. “So a lot of the coaching in that aspect is from what I’ve been hearing from him for years and years.”
Her father said her ability to connect with her players would be a big asset for the Falcons.
“The girls are so lucky at Ludlowe to have a girl who has grown up in the business and grown up around the game,” said Stuart. “And I think particularly since she’s a young woman and these are young women or young girls, there’s a connection. My connection is kind of like a father to a daughter with my team. But hers is more maybe like a sister type of relationship, which can be maybe a little closer and more understanding. She definitely gets their point of view because she lived it.”
Like her father, Lindsay’s goal is not only to teach the fundamentals of golf but to get more girls playing.
“That’s definitely his passion in life, just growing the game, getting access to it for those who don’t,” she said. “With the girls game he works closely with First Tee, just making sure that anyone who is at all interested in golf can find a way to play.”
She plans on carrying out that mission as coach of Ludlowe.
“I want to make sure I’m helping them learn golf,” she said. “As long as I can grow their appreciation for it and just make it a hobby of theirs that they return to, knowing it’s something they can do for years to come, that’s all I want for them.”
Her dad couldn’t have said it any better.