The first year Ravenna golf coach will lead an inexperienced team into Western Reserve Conference competition this fall, and with perennial powers like Hudson, Stow and Kent Roosevelt in the same division, he is realistic about the Ravens' chances.
But despite the long odds on the Ravens winning the WRC championship, Flarida is excited about the opportunity to coach the sport he loves.
"This is really the one position I've coveted for a long time," said Flarida, who takes over for long-time coach Jim Neely. "I love the game of golf. I've been a sports official for some time now, and I had to turn back refereeing 25 volleyball matches to be able to coach. Volleyball officials are in big demand, so I probably won't be in the good graces with a few league commissioners."
The name Flarida should be familiar to golf fans in Portage County.
"My brother Darrin was the golf coach at Waterloo," said Flarida. "He was very successful. I served as his assistant in the 1981, 1982 and 1983 school years, and the last two years we qualified for the state tournament."
Flarida said he hopes to eventually bring that same kind of success to Ravenna.
"Our goal is basically going to be to simply continue to get better," said Flarida, who has taught fifth and sixth grade in Ravenna for 16 years. "I met some of the kids on (Ravenswood Golf Club) ... and I told them that before I leave I want us to be able to get past the sectionals. As long as I've been at Ravenna, we've never had a team get past the sectionals. We'll get some great competition in the conference from teams like Hudson and Kent Roosevelt. That makes my job a little tougher."
Ravenna will be playing its home matches at Windmill Lakes Golf Club, but a lack of available practice time on the course worries Flarida.
"It's tough on us because (Windmill Lakes owner and Kent State University coach) Herb Page now has the women's program at Kent State," said Flarida. "Windmill Lakes is a spectacular course, and between the demand (for open tee times) and the Kent State teams, there is very little time for us to use the course to practice."
Daryl and Kurt Guyette, the co-owners of Ravenswood Golf Club, came to the rescue of the Ravenna golf program.
"I was about ready to start crying trying to find a place for us to practice," said Flarida. "I went to them to see if we could just use the course for our qualifier, and they basically just opened the course up to us. Daryl said 'anything we can do to help, just ask.' We are really fortunate to have Ravenswood. Daryl and Kurt are really turning it into a very good golf course."