Fond du Lac, Wis. is over 4,000 miles away from the islands of Hawaii, but for some Marian student-athletes, Wisconsin has become a second home.
Marian University has students from across the world make their way to Wisconsin for the opportunity at higher education, but for Sabre athletics, senior AJ Rambaud and sophomore Dax Martin are two of the more well-traveled amongst American students. Rambaud and Martin are each native to the fiftieth state of the United States, Hawaii, and both come from the most populated Hawaiian island of Oahu. Growing up a mere 20 minutes away, Rambaud calls Mililani home, while Martin hails from Kaimuki, a residential neighborhood to Honolulu.
The process of getting a student-athlete to Marian begins with recruiting. A typically recruiting process may include phone calls, high school visits, and the student visiting campus, along with several other things. Due to the long distance between Wisconsin and Hawaii, however, the recruiting process has its fair share of difficulties, and coaches are required to change their strategy. Head golf coach Ty McLaughlin shared his thoughts on the recruiting process as he recruited Rambaud from Hawaii.
“It’s vastly different,” commented McLaughlin on the recruiting process. “You have to try to sell the school and university to a kid who most likely isn’t going to be able to visit. All of our Hawaiian kids had never stepped foot on campus until the first day they moved in. Another big difference is communication due to the time zone difference. There are a lot of times where you’re left waiting until night time in Wisconsin so that you can call and talk with them when they are done with school.”
Despite the unique recruiting challenges, Martin was able to tell that Marian was where he wanted to be based on what he had heard about the school.
“The coach was very genuine and upfront about what I was walking into,” commented Martin on why he chose Marian. “He was genuine about what my role would be as a student-athlete and as a member of the volleyball program.”
“I chose to come to Marian because of the direct entry nursing program and the opportunity to play collegiate golf,” added Rambaud.
In a shortened first season at Marian, Martin played in 13 sets over the course of six matches. Martin would record a pair of service aces and in the back row amassed eight digs with five of his digs coming against Concordia Wisconsin. He would also face the challenge of living a significant distance from home for the first time as well.
“Making time for family calls and connecting with friends back home was especially difficult due to time zone and schedule differences,” commented Martin on the difficulties of his first year away from Hawaii.
While Martin may have had the luxury of always playing in a gym with the same size court, Rambuad had the difficulty of adjusting his game from Hawaiian golf courses to Wisconsin courses.
“The courses they are playing here in the Midwest are vastly different,” commented McLaughlin on the differences in strategy from Hawaiian golf courses. “The biggest adjustment at first is honestly the grass and how the ball interacts coming out of it. They are all great to coach though, they are kids that you can count on that don’t get too overzealous about a bad shot or outcome. They are great at keeping a cool head. It’s been a pleasure being able to work with them as they make me better in communication and instruction every day.”
Over his three years at Marian, Rambaud has played 33 rounds of golf, despite having the spring portion of last season cut short, averaging 82.2 strokes per round. Rambaud has provided consistency in his three seasons with his stroke average ranging from 81.5 to 82.8 each year. His best round came during his freshman campaign when he shot a 74 at the WLC Spring Invite where he finished in a tie for sixth.
“A major challenge while attending school in Wisconsin has just been the weather and culture,” commented Rambaud. “Who knew wearing gloves while scraping ice off of your car in 20-degree weather was a good idea? Not me. The culture shock has been a challenge but has been followed by understanding and appreciating our differences. It might have been a challenge to adapt to the culture but it probably has been one of my favorite reasons for being here too. Another challenge was being away from my family and surrounded by a culture that made me uncomfortable. While I didn’t have my family and friends to make Filipino jokes, I still had a welcoming Marian family that encouraged my growth as both a student and an overall person.”
No matter the distance traveled, Fond du Lac and Marian University continues to be a second home for students and student-athletes alike.