The friendship was built upon a strong foundation that included a passion for education.

It has evolved since the beginning but now, more than 25 years later, that friendship, while going through some ups and downs, is stronger today than it has been in the past.

Superintendents, principals, teachers, and more, retired for the most part and from several different parts of the country, get together at least once each year to continue a tradition that started 26 years ago. What started as a getaway fishing trip for the group, who met through different educator conferences around the country, all those years ago is now a staple in the lives of these men.

“It’s a fellowship and a companionship with the common bond of education,” said Terry Erickson, who traveled from Sacramento, Calif., to Ahwatukee Foothills for this year’s event. “It started as just a boring fishing group but has since evolved into what it is today.”

From April 24 to 28, 10 golfers occupied Ahwatukee Foothills for multiple days of golf at Ahwatukee Country Club, Club West Golf Course and Phantom Horse. It was bittersweet for Ahwatukee Foothills host, Gary Eyre, who was unable to play due to complications from an ankle surgery.

“People in the group come from California, Oregon, Colorado, and more, and everyone loves the golf here in Ahwatukee,” Eyre said. “This year I’ll just be rooting them on from the sidelines.”

One day out of the week, what they call the “Golf Extravaganza,” they host the Roy Erickson Memorial, a day dedicated to the former member who helped to originally start the group. He died in 2006.

“We always have a day devoted to him and his memory,” Eyre said.

Flowing through their competitiveness on the courses, is conversation about the current state of education in America. They all have been involved as their careers and just because they are retired, doesn’t mean they don’t keep up with the current issues facing the American education system, Eyre said.

“We’re a group of educators and we’ve had the same core group for 20 years,” he said. “Education is a passion for a lot of us.”

It was the 20th anniversary of the group’s outing this past week and Eyre expects that it will continue for another 20 years.

“We just enjoy each other’s company,” he said.

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