First of all, I think it is exciting to be able to come back and coach at my alma mater and follow up a coach that I respected so much. Second, it is exciting to work with motivated players and help shape them as golfers and as young men. I really enjoy taking what I have learned over the years and turning that knowledge over to the guys.
WHAT ARE YOUR EARLY SEASON OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE 2009 LEOPARD SQUAD?
WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING THING ABOUT BEING THE HEAD GOLF COACH AT LA VERNE?
We have a very good group of guys. We have three guys with NCAA Championship experience and a great group of sophomores that are constantly getting better. This team is willing to put in the time and effort to achieve their goals. The conference is extremely deep this year, but I still look for us to do some great things.
WHAT WERE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS YEAR’S TEAM COMING INTO THE SEASON?
Coach Riehle and I have tried not to put too many result oriented expectations on this season. Obviously with the history of our program, we expect to be in the mix for a SCIAC title and be competitive at a national level, but our main expectations are that the guys prepare well, work to improve, hold themselves accountable to the team, and always give their best effort. If they do that, we have plenty of talent for the results to take care of themselves.
HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION IN THE SCIAC?
I played for four years here in a very competitive SCIAC conference and our conference has developed a great reputation across the U.S. This year is no different and from what I have seen so far, the conference has the potential to be the deepest it has ever been. Redlands has an outstanding program and has been on the national scene for a while, and there are several other schools in our league that can compete at the elite level.
DO YOU FEEL ANY ADDITIONAL PRESSURE BECAUSE LA VERNE GOLF ENJOYED TREMENDOUS SUCCESS IN RECENT YEARS?
I guess you could say there is some pressure, but we don’t really look at it like that. I have been around the program enough to know what it is all about and part of the reason I took this job was to make sure that success continued.
YOU HAD THE UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE PLAYED FOR THE PERSON WHO TRANSFORMED LA VERNE GOLF INTO A NATIONALLY-PROMINENT PROGRAM IN REX HUIGENS. TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH REX AND HOW HE HAS HELPED EASE YOUR TRANSITION HERE AT LA VERNE?
Yes, I did and I enjoyed every minute of it. Rex and I were very close when I was at La Verne, and we have maintained our relationship since I left. I spent a lot of time in his office and had many talks with him in the van on the way to events. Rex is honestly one of the best people I have ever had the privilege of knowing and I sincerely mean that. He supported me when I was at La Verne and he supported me when I was playing professionally after I graduated. It has been nice to be able to call him when I have a question; he is always willing to help. I think the transition has been easier for me than it would have been for someone with no background at ULV or with Rex. Most of our guys played for Rex and they all love him. I understand the history he has here and I think that makes it easier.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE (IF ANY) THAT REX GAVE YOU ONCE YOU TOOK OVER AS THE NEW LEOPARD GOLF COACH?
I don’t know that he has given me much since I took over, but playing for him definitely helped shape my coaching philosophy. I took many of the things that I liked about him and implemented them with my own twist. The best advice he ever gave me as a player was “be as good as you are.” I always liked that saying, because it helps you remember that you just need to be you and play to your capabilities not anyone else’s.
YOU HEAR COACHES TRY TO DEVELOP STUDENT-ATHLETES BOTH ON THE FIELDS OF PLAY AND IN THE CLASSROOM. AS A FORMER STUDENT-ATHLETE YOURSELF, HOW DO YOU DRAW ON THOSE EXPERIENCES TO HELP YOUR FUTURE PLAYERS?
Associate Head Coach Eric Riehle and I both want to help these guys develop athletically, academically, and personally. I was able to be pretty successful on the golf course and in the classroom in my days at La Verne, while still finding time for a pretty extensive social life in college. Knowing that you can have all three allows me to hold these guys accountable and not accept excuses. We try to give them helpful hints so that they can be successful on and off the course as well. Discipline and time management are two qualities that will help any student-athlete be successful.
WHAT ARE YOUR SHORT- AND LONG-TERM GOALS FOR THE LEOPARD GOLF PROGRAM?
We set a few season goals for the guys, one of which included defending our SCIAC title and obviously we are always trying to win an NCAA Championship as well. For the long term we want to continue the success of the ULV program and continue to make it even better. We want our guys to be competitive at the national level every year, but more importantly we want them to value their time here. We want them to enjoy their experience while learning how to be well rounded, responsible adults. Our goal is that in five years, people will look at La Verne as the premier Division III golf program in the country.