Tee Time

Lee High School dropped football, deciding golf was a better sport for its kids, no matter how poor or new to this country they might be

Down the hall is the principal's office. Amstutz has an open-door policy. Kids stop in throughout the day to see his snake, Howie. The other corn snake, Ramona, died last month. Teachers and students stopped by all day telling Amstutz they were sorry for his loss. The walls are covered with Harley paraphernalia and family photos.

Even the über-positive Amstutz thinks the golf team isn't good. But they're just starting, he says. His goal is to encourage kids to join sports teams, make a commitment and learn how to stick with something. Plus, being involved in sports helps keep kids in school. It gives them a reason to come back each day.

When a girl on the cross-country team told Amstutz she finished dead last in a race, he said, "That's great." She had fun, he said, and she tried. Which was the whole point. "I don't care if we ever win," Amstutz says.

He wants to support "lifetime fitness," and golf is a game that kids can play through retirement. There are currently two junior varsity girls' soccer teams. "That's not unusual in the suburbs. But for us, that's a big deal," he says. "We'll find the money to buy the cleats. We'll find the money to buy the shin guards."

Amstutz thinks it would be fantastic if enough students signed up for golf to field two teams. "That would be a problem I would relish," he says.

Football still isn't on Lee's future program. A cricket team is being debated, and Amstutz says he's "really intrigued" by the idea of starting a long-distance cycling team. He'd like to have kids race in the MS 150. Amstutz makes an effort to support any sport that students want to play.

"We're trying to figure out how to get enough kayaks in our swimming pool to learn kayaking and canoeing."

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