By Sean Savage
As the grass turns greener, flowers bud and the temperature rises, the 2023 spring season begins. Additionally, it signals a new beginning for the Springfield College men’s golf team, as it prepares for its upcoming season, which starts on April 7.
Before the season begins, however, the team took its annual trip to Florida, providing an opportunity to improve both on and off the course.
“It was a great bonding experience,” head coach Joe Eadie said. “We got to get up every morning and hit balls and just go out there and play.”
Senior Nick DeMaio also had a chance to reflect on the trip and how the Pride tried to replicate the competitiveness of actual matches.
“You can go out on the golf course and just hit it around and not really care about the score,” DeMaio said. “And then when you get to a tournament, it just gets flipped upside down, it’s a completely different atmosphere. So we tried to recreate that while playing, which was the biggest thing.”
The Pride comprises 13 players, but they know to keep the individual aspect of golf from impacting team morale. Through previous seasons, DeMaio learned what it meant to be a catalyst for the team.
“If I play badly over the summer, that is just on me,” DeMaio said. “But if I play badly for the school, I am letting down my teammates.”
Additionally, DeMaio understands the concept of playing for something bigger than yourself.
“You are on the course by yourself, but you are playing for the guys around you,” DeMaio said. “They take the four best scores, so you always think you are playing for the team, not just yourself.”
When it comes to recruiting, Eadie credits the attraction of golfers to the school itself.
“It is not hard to recruit players; the school speaks for itself,” he said. “All the programs – Sports Management and Business – are here. It is not me; it is the school.”
However, only five of the 13 players can play in each match.
“I am not a basketball coach or a baseball coach where I say ‘You are in,'” Eadie said. Instead, as he explained, the five players with the best scores from training get to go.
“I tell them if you are not picked, just go work on your game and swing, and then show up for the next one,” Eadie said.
The team’s competitive nature took the Pride far in its 2022 fall season, but they just fell short of winning the MASCAC Championships. The Pride finished second of the eight teams.
“We have a chip on our shoulder for next fall,” DeMaio said.
Looking ahead on the schedule – every swing, practice, and match leads to their eventual fall 2023 season, where they will seek vengeance.
Although this time around, Eadie plans to take a different approach.
“We started training for our last fall tournament during spring break, and I felt we played too much. We could not stay amped up for three months,” he said.
Eadie and his players know they have a fire lit beneath the surface as they fell short last season, but Eadie does not want to overwork them leading up to the 2023 MASCAC tournament.
A focal point for the Pride for their spring season is to focus on the final four of 18 holes. Eadie is in the process of becoming a PGA Professional, so he knows after playing for upward of three hours, the last holes are bound to be harder.
“I do not want to coach my guys on how to swing – all of them have their swing coaches back at home. My job is just to keep the mental part of the game,” he said.
Eadie has been at the helm for more than 30 years, and still the part he cherishes the most is watching his guys grow as players.
“I love to see kids come in as first-year students and watch them grow until they are seniors,” he said.” It is just as good for me as it is for them to watch them grow into amazing people, even for the ones who do not play in all the matches.”
Photo: Springfield Athletics