By Lucas Van Deventer
Hard work runs deep on the Springfield College men’s golf team, and preparation has followed what they looked out to accomplish this season. Mike Strong has seen what it can do.
The senior golfer has been a prime example of working hard all the way until the end. Through his four years on the team, he has seen how much a program can change and be improved.
“Since I have been here I tried to take leadership, and when I came here the program wasn’t really good to be honest, but with me and the help of Matt [Gazaille] who is a senior too, we really were able to change the program around to become a legitimate team,” Strong said.
During Strong’s career, the program was able to learn how to make things better for a culture and an experience to see the hard work being paid off.
He was awarded the 2019 Guy Tedesco award during their tournament at the New England Intercollegiate Golf Association (NEIGA) to cap off the season. The award is given to an individual who displays the qualities of unselfish leadership, outstanding talent, the love for golf, and willingness to promote positive aspects to others. Strong has worked hard to represent the golf team and make a name for the golf program.
“Mike has worked so hard and has been so committed all year long and he deserves it more than anybody else,” sophomore teammate Corey Roya said.
It goes to show that being able to make a change allows the team to realize the progress. The process to have a better program takes trust to believe in someone. Strong was able to accomplish that and the award is evident to his progress.
“When we go to tournaments, people don’t look at us like a washed-up team, they look at us like a real team who can compete when we’re on our game, and that speaks to what we started and how we changed the culture inside of it,” Strong said.
The talent that the team showed along with Strong, was a way to gain attention from other teams. At the NEIGA, men’s golf placed fifth at the championship which was the best finish in program history. The Springfield Pride also captured the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletics Conference (MASCAC) for the second straight season.
At MASCAC, Strong was able to grind it out to finish with a 152, claiming the Golfer of the Year Award. Roya also made his presence known, placing third overall and receiving all-conference honors. The team was able to prove that their talent gave them a reason to compete and go up against tough opponents.
Strong’s personal goals adapted to how he wanted to end the season and how the team would look.
Strong was able to see what needed to improve in his game and how the team would end up by the end of the season. The goals rely on preparation and the abilities to achieve them.
“My goals that I set, I wrote it out in my notes, like the pros do. I did the same thing. I accomplished five out of the six. I won the conference player of the year, and I wanted to accomplish the big goals,” Strong said.
Strong knows that having a talented core will also provide for more support to getting goals achieved as a team. The team depends on one another in order to face the goals that are at hand.
“I’m happy with what our team accomplished and the way we are moving forward with Jake Raichle and Corey, it’s exciting for them,” Strong said.
The way that Strong went about changing the program, receiving the award, and working hard with his team highlights the leader that he became. He was able to spread his voice for change and motivation to compete throughout his whole team.
“I have had two incredible seasons playing alongside Mike. He has been a leader to me ever since I got to Springfield College and I will miss traveling with him. I remember watching him win the conference and accomplish his goal, that was really cool,” Roya said.
When the chance comes to see someone’s goal accomplished, it makes a team realize what it takes to compete and that is all that Strong asks for. He is a presence that motivates and helps others experience their own moments when the time comes. Strong’s experiences helped to share many memories in his senior year with the team.
“Winning the conference was most memorable this season. Coming back on the van with the guys we always had a joke that we would take a spring trip, but only if we won the conference. All we were saying on the ride from winning the conference was, where are we going?” Strong said.
When Strong steps on the course, he knows what he has to do to get the job done and his expectations influence his teammates to try harder and work until the very end. In this way, he will remember the golf program and he saw that as something which benefited both himself and the team. In every tournament, the effort had to be at the highest level to meet his goals.
“It’s a grind. My main grind was in the summer spending four or five hours a day strictly just practicing. I think that was the grind in itself and I’m glad it paid off this year. It took a lot of hard work and dedication to get where I’m at and I know Corey and Jake as well as the rest of the guys are following up doing the same thing,” Strong said.
For Strong, being able to see the progress being made means much more than just for himself. When the hard work pays off, his leadership role impacts everyone around him.
Photo courtesy of Springfield College Athletics