Over the past four years, the Marian University men’s and women’s golf programs have been a melting pot with student-athletes located around the country.
Marian University has been the collegiate choice of golfers from 15 different states going coast to coast from California to Florida including both Hawaii and Alaska as well. With the long distances involved, there are certain difficulties and adjustments that need to be made by both the student-athletes and coaching staff from recruiting, and throughout their entire collegiate career.
“One of the biggest hurdles is always their travel,” said head golf coach Ty McLaughlin. “Whether that is for a visit or coming to and from campus for breaks. We always try to encourage them to go for breaks, like fall and Thanksgiving, to one of the families of a teammate who is closer. We are always looking to do team building activities that help those who are a little farther from home than others.”
For three of the more well-traveled student-athletes on the current Sabre golf roster, they agreed completely with McLaughlin that travel and distance from family have been the hardest thing to overcome.
“Since I am from Nevada I would say being across the United States from my family is the hardest part,” said Jacqueline Ruud who calls Las Vegas home. “There is also a huge difference between the West coast environment and the Midwest.”
Then the big question with all the difficulties involved with attending a University that is so far away, why do student-athletes continue to flock to Marian University to continue their golf career? McLaughlin points to the wide range of academic opportunities presented to them as a main selling point in the recruiting process along with the family atmosphere throughout campus.
“We offer such great academic opportunities and support, it really gives the students a chance to see that they are able to easily obtain the career they want after graduation,” said McLaughlin. “The opportunity to experience a true four seasons also is a big sell for a lot of student-athletes who aren’t accustomed to that. One thing that we always hear is how welcomed they are from the beginning, which really hits home on how we view our program as a family.”
As is the case for most student-athletes, the smaller class sizes and personal relationships they can build are a key factor in their commitment to Marian. The family atmosphere around Marian helps every student feel a more personalized experience at Marian.
“I ultimately chose to come to Marian for golf but then fell in love with the campus and the community that we are surrounded by,” said Jake Sherwood, a native to Las Vegas, Nev., who enters his senior season this year.
“I enjoyed the smaller campus and I enjoy how professors remember you even though they have hundreds of students to teach a day,” added Ruud. “It is special to feel like you have a name to a face instead of a number on a seat.”
A native to Mission, Texas, OJ Garcia chimed in saying, “I chose Marian because of the small class sizes. When I found out I would have the opportunity to play Whistling Straights I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.”
When the team can come together every season, they see the experience of having teammates from around the country as a rewarding one. This only helps boost their experience as a Sabre. With the experience they all bring from different parts of the nation, they can learn a lot from each other on the course.
“It creates a great sense of opportunity with a lot of competition,” said Garcia. “This is the first time where I really had to compete for my spot. Having teammates from so many different places it’s cool because all of us were some of the best players in our area. It really tests us to see what kind of competition we had when we were in high school.”
This experience also proves beneficial off the course as everyone can learn about different regions of the United States and build friendships.
“I have been able to go to several of my teammates’ houses such as Kyle Doyle in Colorado and Maxwell Dye in Alaska,” said Sherwood. “Learning where my teammates have come from and the different backgrounds that we experienced have only helped in our team bonding.”
That experience of enjoying memories from other people from around the nation goes for fellow students outside of their teammates as well.
“Attending other sporting events has been super cool,” said Ruud on her favorite part of attending Marian. “I really enjoyed spending time with my friends at the huge bonfire we had last year, it was pretty insane.”
Garica added in by saying, “Some of my favorite moments at Marian would have to be being able to meet new people from other states and other countries. Having the ability to travel along with playing so many new and different courses is also pretty great.”
Through his first three years as a Sabre, Sherwood has been near the top of the roster logging 50 total rounds with a 78.2 stroke average, which currently is the 14th lowest stroke average in program history. Sherwood has a pair of victories in his career after winning an individual title at the Marian Spring Invite his sophomore year and a victory at the Wrigglesworth Invitational last season. The Wrigglesworth victory saw him card a 70 followed by a 72 to finish one-under and top the leaderboard in the field of 92 golfers. The 70 in his first round is the lowest round of his career and the ninth-lowest single round in program history.
Garcia also enters his junior season as a Sabre having played nine varsity rounds with an 82.6 stroke average. Last season he averaged 76.5 per round with the two lowest scores of his career coming at the MSOE Invitational with a 78 followed by a 75. He also had a pair of rounds where he finished in under 80 strokes his freshman season.
Ruud also enters her junior year at Marian with nine rounds played so far in her career with a stroke average of 102.7. All of her rounds came last season after injuries kept her off the course as a freshman. She continually improved throughout the year and had a strong 20th finish at the NACC Championship. That 20th-place finish saw her shoot a 102 followed by back-to-back rounds of 97, her first two rounds in her career where she finished under 100.