Story by Cassandra Campise
Hamilton High School golf coach Steve Kanner won the NFHS National Golf Coach of the Year Award after leading his team to a state championship in the 2019-2020 season.
Kanner started the golf program at Hamilton 20 years ago. As the community grew, so did the interest in golf. That is when the team started seeing sustained success.
The award is more than just the 2019-2020 state championship to Kanner. He looks at it as decades of support from assistant coaches, parents, players, and the community, with many people helping him along the way.
One of those people who aided Kanner is Delvin Schutes. Kanner once stepped away from coaching for three years, and Schutes stepped in to lead the program to a state championship.
When Schutes retired, Kanner came back and the team won four more state championships in a row. To be a part of a team that won five state championships is one of the highlights of his career as a coach, and it’s a credit to the duo.
“I want to mention Delvin because he is a mentor of mine,” Kanner said. “We really couldn’t be any more different. He is from Oklahoma and I am from New York. I think we just hit it off and I still think about him all the time.”
Another highlight of Kanner’s coaching career is giving his players the opportunity to compete against some of the best teams from around the country. For 11 years, the Huskies hosted an invitational tournament where teams from around the U.S. and Canada came out to play in the Valley of the Sun. It gave his program a great experience.
In addition to being a head coach, Kanner is also a school counselor at Hamilton, too. He has seen how the pandemic has affected his students directly and been a rollercoaster ride.
However, if there was one benefit for his team with online instruction, it was that they had more flexibility in their schedule to practice during the day and work on schoolwork at night.
“That has always been a challenge for our players because they like to be out there working on their game,” he said.
One of Kanner’s players was University of Arizona commit and 2019 state champion Johnny Walker. He described what makes Kanner such a good coach and what has prepared him for the next level.
“I feel that he has helped me with the mental side of golf,” Walker said, “both with course management and my attitude.”
Losing Walker is a loss, but the team will have top players Mahanth Chirravuri, who is a USC verbal commit, and Anawin Pikulthong, who is committed to ASU.
“I always tell the kids, ‘Let’s put ourselves in a position where we’re in the final group of a tournament,’” Kanner said. “Where we are towards the top of the leader board and everything is right there in front us and we can do our best and know where we stand.”
With Kanner leading the way, the Huskies will look to continue their dominance for years to come.