SHERIDAN — Sheridan College’s summer community classes are giving students — and instructors — the opportunity to explore and enjoy interests in an educational, low-pressure environment.
This year, the college is offering numerous courses to the public, including a mountain biking class and a golf class. The courses began June 12 and ran for eight weeks.
Parker Klar is the campus recreation coordinator for Sheridan College, but this summer he’s wearing another hat as the instructor of the golf community interest class. Klar’s background includes a stint as a head golf professional at a resort course in Minnesota, and when he was asked to bestow his expertise upon beginner golfers, he didn’t hesitate to say yes. The class meets twice per week for two hours each, and eight students are currently enrolled.
Klar said the goal of the course was to help participants develop a solid golf foundation and to build their abilities from the ground up.
“We started out assuming that there’s zero golf knowledge at all from any of our students,” Klar said. “We teach them the rules of golf and course features like ponds, hazards and sand traps.”
Once students have had the technicalities down, Klar said he begins to teach them basic skills such as putting, chipping and driving. Though trying something new almost always comes with a learning curve, Klar said participants in the class are rapidly getting the hang of the sport, and having fun while doing it.
“I think it’s good that we start with the basics and kind of build upon it every week because it can be tricky, and things come and go,” he said. “But they’re picking it up quickly and having a blast with it.”
Students will show off their newfound golf knowledge at the end of July with a nine-hole scramble. Klar said there was a sizable waiting list for the class, and the college may offer multiple sections of it next summer if the public remains interested in participating.
An introductory mountain biking course offered by the college is also helping the community get active outdoors. Computer science instructor and self-described bike fan Mark Thoney teaches a class of four beginner mountain bikers, helping them develop the abilities they need to have a safe and fun experience on a real bike trail.
“It’s an intro class, so we take a pretty basic approach and we work on fundamentals. We aren’t getting too crazy, and we don’t want anybody to get hurt,” Thoney said. “So the instructions are pretty straightforward.”
Thoney said one of the biggest challenges of teaching the class has been finding creative ways to work around the weather. He said this year’s high amount of rainfall has made many trails too wet and muddy to ride on, which means he often has to improvise by having students practice tight turns and switchbacks around traffic cones in parking lots. If the forecast improves, Thoney hopes to have students out on a mountain bike path this week.
Some students in the class use their own equipment, while others borrow a bicycle. No matter what skill level the participants are at or what kind of gear they have, Oney said the mountain biking course — as well as the other community interest classes — are easy going, fun activities to take advantage of.
“The nice thing about the classes is that it’s a repetitive thing each week, so you can practice your skills and come back. There are other events in town, but they often have a lot of people there … so it’s hard to provide individual instruction,” Thoney said. “That’s what I really like about this — you don’t have to be quite so intimidated by all the other people. So for those who want to get into it, I think this is a really great way.”
This fall, Sheridan College will offer several different community classes, including astronomy of the Bighorn Mountains, beginning yoga, self-defense and fly rod building. More information and registration can be found at sheridan.edu.
Caroline Elik is the education and sports reporter for The Sheridan Press.