The Mount’s men’s golf team has established itself as having a tradition of continued success. Coach Joe Sparhawk ’01 is in his 11th season as head men’s golf coach, and last year led the team to a program-best second place standing at the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) Championships where the Lions have participated for the third time in four years. We talked about the men’s golf team then and today with MIKE WHALEN ‘09, who graduated with a degree in psychology and is now an assistant coach with the program, and ERIC HENSLER ‘16, who is in his junior season with the Lions.
What was the recruitment process like?
MW: I was not recruited by Coach Sparhawk like our players today are. I was playing football for the Mount when I met Coach, and we started talking a little bit about golf. Coach Sparhawk knew I had never played in a tournament before, but took a chance on me due to my interest in golf and to fill a full five-man team. I guess you could say I ended up on the team by default!
Why did you choose the Mount?
EH: I chose the Mount for many reasons. I liked it because it was very close to home and I like being close to my parents and family. I also like the team chemistry. After my official visit with the team and school, I got to hang out with them (the team) for the day. I could really see myself fitting in and being a part of the team. Academics is another reason, especially with more personal attention in the classroom and knowing what I would get out of all the classes I am taking.
What were your favorite moments while playing golf for the Mount? MW: Above all, winning the first-ever tournament in Mount history.
Coach still has the scores hanging in his office, and it makes me proud every time I see it. Secondly, when I had a hole-in-one during a tournament at Aston Oaks. I remember Coach driving up a few holes
later with a big smile on his face and he said, “You are kidding me, right?” I also remember how happy I was when I graduated and Coach Sparhawk asked me to help coach the team. I would have never imagined playing golf, let alone coaching as well.
How did playing on the Mount’s golf team affect your life?
MW: Playing golf at the Mount has had a huge impact on my life. It taught me the value of hard work, dedication, being positive, and above all, how
to carry myself as a representative of not just myself, but of the entire university. Not a day goes by that I don’t use something I learned playing
or coaching. Coach Sparhawk was instrumental in me becoming the person I am today. He took a chance on a kid and helped me grow as a player, a coach and as a man. Being a part of the Mount golf team is how I identify myself. It’s who I am.
EH: I think it has affected me in lots of ways. It has made me more responsible and punctual. I realize that I’m lucky to be playing the sport I love day in and day out, and I treasure these moments.