Joe Gabent, a fifth-grade teacher at Fairwood Elementary, didn’t set out to form a disc golf club at school. It just sort of happened. Earlier in the school year he started bringing discs for kids to throw at recess. The kids had fun playing with the discs, so Gabent brought in a portable disc golf basket and introduced the kids to the game. Eventually, 24 fourth- and fifth-graders at Fairwood signed up for the SSD’s first disc golf club!
Fairwood Explorer Alliance donated money for Gabent to purchase six portable disc golf baskets, and he put together a six-hole disc golf course on the Fairwood campus. After three months of weekly practicing, the Fairwood Disc Golf Club (FDGC) held a tournament at Villa Maria Disc Golf Course in Cupertino, a course that has 12 short, technical holes in a woodsy setting.
Parents of the players, fellow teachers, and Gabent’s family helped run the tournament, keeping track of scores, leading students through the course, and keeping everyone out of poison oak! The tournament required a lot of planning and organization but was a great success.
“What I loved about the tournament was that we finally got to play holes in nature with many obstacles. I plan to continue playing disc golf because it can keep me moving while exercising my brain to come up with different strategies,” said Johnny, a member of the club.
“I liked the tournament because it made me try new things. I like the challenge when I play and the sweet sound of the chains when you throw into the basket,” said Megan, a fellow club member.
The children in the club got a lot of benefits. In addition to learning basic throwing techniques, what discs to throw in different situations, and how to play a round of disc golf, Gabent said students learned a lot about self-confidence, self-improvement, patience, and supporting other players.
“Some things that I like about Disc Golf is there are a lot of ups and downs, but putting the disc into the basket just makes it all better,” said Sahil, another FDGC member.
Samir was hooked on disc golf from his first introduction. “When Mr. G was passing out discs I felt a connection when I felt the driver, mid-range, and putter and then I knew I wanted to do disc golf,” he said.
“I enjoyed playing. Like, a LOT,” said Jasper, a fifth-grade member of the club. He was disappointed to be graduating from Fairwood and unable to be in the club next year.
If Gabent has his way, Sunnyvale students and families will have lots more opportunities to play disc golf. He’s hoping to expand disc golf to other schools in the District next year, and he would love to have other schools join the tournament. He’s also been working with the Silicon Valley Disc Golf Club, which includes four local courses in San Jose and Cupertino, to potentially get the city of Sunnyvale to allow some disc golf baskets to be put in at Baylands Park.
Article by Lighthouse Blue Communications Consultant Dyan Chan and Fairwood Teacher Joe Gabent.