June Blake was never a golfer.
The former soccer, basketball and softball star at Wahconah Regional needed a job when she was in high school, though. So, along with her twin sister Joyce, she ventured across the street to Wahconah Country Club. Years later, a summer job turned into so much more.
“After college, I was looking for a job but I wanted to do something I really enjoyed,” June Blake said. “Part of that was being outside and enjoying being out here and doing a job I really liked doing. I kind of stuck with it.”
After spending years as an assistant at Wahconah and Crestview Country Club, Blake, one-time stranger to golf, was hired as course superintendent at Forest Park Country Club in Adams last year. The 33-year-old, who coaches girls basketball at Wahconah and softball at Mount Greylock, has been a hit.
“Our greens have never been better,” said Forest Park general manager Bruce Cardin. “Everybody that comes here, they say our greens are as good as anybody in the county. … She’s done a lot of good things as far as clearing a few trees, just little things you see her doing. It’s really improved our course a lot. She’s done a fantastic job.”
June Blake has come a long way from those high school summers so many years ago. Now she’s the only female superintendent in the county and among a minority nationally.
Joyce said the job at Wahconah was hard at first. The teenagers were limited in what they could do. It ended up being a lot of manual labor like trimming weeds, fixing divots and push mowing for Jeremy Stachowicz, now the course superintendent at Wahconah.
But the pair stuck with it. Joyce is now an assistant at Berkshire Hills while her sister is running her own place.
“I’m super proud of her, taking that big step,” Joyce said. “Sure there’s people saying no way, she can’t do it, or there’s doubters out there, but you know what? She’s proved herself. I’m proud of her for doing that. Kind of opening the door for the rest of us.”
Stachowicz could see both had an aptitude for the profession right away. It came down to a strong work ethic he saw every day.
“I think if you’re on this side you have to have the strong work ethic,” Stachowicz said. “She has that. She’s not afraid to work. She’s reached out to me a couple times. She’s not afraid to ask for help if she needs that. She’s very bright. She can figure out problems on her own. It helps that she is a pretty good player.”
Those playing skills developed after starting a career in the industry. June Blake said now it’s hard to get on the course too often but she tries to when she can. Her sister said the pair golf together about once a month.
On her own course, June Blake embraces a hard day’s work. She starts around 5 a.m. and always has to be prepared for hiccups to sidetrack her day. Of course, at a small course like Forest Park, Blake does a bit of everything. She has two part-time employees but the bulk of the work at the nine-hole course is on her.
For Blake, that’s the best part. She’s been able to strike out on her own and take the next step in her golf career.
“I’m not just the superintendent here,” June Blake said. “If something breaks down I have to be able to fix that. I’m kind of the mechanic as well. You have to be able to do every aspect of the job here. I enjoy that part of it because, like I said, every day is different. You never know what’s going to, something may break down and you may have to spend time fixing it.
“That’s the exciting part of my job.”