Cammarata named new golf coach at Jamestown CC
When Phil Cammarata was a sophomore at Jamestown Community College more than 30 years ago, he qualified for the NJCAA Golf Championship in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“All I remember is No. 1 at McCormick Ranch has a canal going down the left side,” he said. “Back then, I did not hook the ball at all. I could have aimed right at the canal and it would have faded into the fairway.”
So, what happened?
“I snap-hooked my drive into that canal and the tournament was pretty much over,” Cammarata said.
But his love for the game has never waned, an odyssey that began as a child at Forest Heights Golf Course, continued at Jamestown CC and has been his avocation as an adult. And now he’ll have a chance to impart some of his passion and knowledge of the game at his alma mater upon being named the Jayhawks’ golf coach earlier this week.
“We’re excited about bringing someone who wants to be a part of the JCC family to coach at the collegiate level,” said George Sisson, the school’s athletic and recreation director. “We were looking for someone to bring consistency to the program and Phil will give us that. We look forward to Phil building relationships with the athletes and community and growing our program. Phil is a former Jayhawk and he will bring a competitive edge to the team on the golf course.”
Ironically, the announcement came the same week the college was planning to host the NJCAA Division III National Championship at Chautauqua Golf Club, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancellation weeks ago. The final round had been scheduled for today.
“I am willing to take the time to build the program,” Cammarata said. “JCC has a lot to offer. The goal is to win the national championship. We’ve done it before (in 2000). To get there, we have to build good relationships with our student-athletes. You have to have the skills to compete while also navigating through the mental side of the game.”
Cammarata’s resume is extensive. Not only did he teach at Forest Heights Golf Course, a layout owned by his father, but he also taught more than 200 golfers in the Sunset Valley Golf Course league.
“My first goal is to go out and assemble a team of 10-15 golfers,” he said. “From there, we can start building relationships. I want my athletes to get to a point where they will walk through fires for me, because I will do the same for them.”
Cammarata knows all about the Jamestown CC, having earned an associates degree in general studies in 1988 before receiving his bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in curriculum development, and an adminsitrative certificate at the SUNY Fredonia. He began teaching in 1990, first at the former Mayville Central School, and moving up to assistant principal at Persell Middle School in 1998. Cammarata, who served as principal at Persell for the past 18 years, has announced his retirement, effective at the end of this month.
“I’m excited for this new opportunity,” said Cammarata, the married father of two boys. “I can give a lot of time and a lot of energy to this.”