Matt Villenauve insists that his new position is a stopgap.
“I’m the interim head coach,” he said.
Whether that turns out to be true a few years from now is anyone’s guess.
At the moment, though, it’s Villenauve’s ship to run.
Villenauve was approved as the new head boys golf coach at Hudson High School during the winter. The 1985 Hudson graduate replaces Dave Kurtz, who stepped down after six seasons with the Explorers. Kurtz, a mathematics teacher at Hudson High School, decided to step aside so he can watch his two children compete in college.
Kurtz’s son Will, a former state champion at Hudson, will be a senior on the Kent State University men’s golf team this fall. His daughter Emma is an All-American on the Auburn (Alabama) University equestrian team.
The 52-year-old Villenauve isn’t convinced that Kurtz will stay away forever. The veteran coach believes his new position will not be permanent.
“That was the agreement,” Villenauve said. “Dave is definitely coming back. It worked out well for him. He’s still in the background working with me. It’s a blessing to have someone in that spot.”
Villenauve, who owns a label manufacturing business in Hudson, spent three years on Hudson’s boys golf team during his high school days. He was led by longtime Explorers head coach Rob Yanko.
Villenauve did not play for Hudson during his senior year. Ironically enough, it was because he wasn’t invited to the course.
“I didn’t make the team my senior year,” Villenauve said. “That’s the great part about golf. It’s not very subjective. The truth is in the numbers.”
This will be Villenauve’s first coaching gig on the golf course. He previously coached third- and fourth-grade players for Hudson Youth Lacrosse. Villenauve’s son Burke, a senior, is a former member of the Explorers.
Although he never served as an assistant coach with his current team, Villenauve played an important role behind the scenes in previous years.
“I was kind of like the super dad,” he said. “I was a team manager. I got to hang around Dave and got very close to the program.”
Hudson finished second in the overall Suburban League National Conference standings and won a Division I sectional title last fall. The Explorers captured three conference championships and advanced to district play during all six of Kurtz’s years.
Like Kurtz, Villenauve is not a swing coach. However, since Hudson has been quite talented over the years, Villenauve knows a massive overhaul won’t be necessary.
“My organizational skills have never been questioned by anyone,” he said. “In terms of being prepared, we’ll be ready to go. Ninety to 95 percent of the season has been planned. We know exactly where we’re going to be as long as COVID-19 doesn’t get in the way.”
The Explorers will no longer have the services of the younger Villenauve and fellow seniors Erik Block, Cole Chluda and Greg Madar in 2020. Nevertheless, the new coach will get to enjoy the company of Hudson’s three top returning players: junior Ben Basta and sophomores Coop Pamer and Andrew Yard.
“We’re looking to fill two slots,” Villenauve said. “It will be critical to know the courses we play. We’re going to focus on shots that are 100 yards and in. We gave up too many strokes last year.”
Trimming a few shots will be pivotal if the Explorers want to end their main rival’s reign. Stow-Munroe Falls has won the last three National Conference championships.
The Bulldogs did let one important trophy get away, though. Hudson topped Stow in the first-ever “Hudson-Stow Rivalry Cup Battle,” which took place last August at Fox Den Golf Course in Stow.
This year’s event is scheduled to take place on a course the Explorers know quite well: The Country Club of Hudson.
“We want to hang on to that trophy,” Villenauve said.
If the Explorers can figure out how to tame the Bulldogs, they have a shot to pursue some rather lofty goals down the road. The most significant one involves a highly-coveted trip to the state capital.
“Getting to state is always the goal,” Villenauve said. “Anything short of states would be a disappointment for the guys and for me.
“The season is a sprint. If you don’t get through sectionals, you’re done in early October. Our goal is to play late in October.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_Gannett.