Going away to college can be a frightening concept for most high school seniors. For athletes looking to further their careers, it can be the most significant decision in their life.
Three years ago Sam Engel was a senior in high school living in Scottsdale, Arizona. Not knowing where to attend college to further his golf career, he looked for some guidance. He found that guidance in CSUN golf upperclassman, Chris Russo.
“I played with one of the guys that used to be on the CSUN golf team, Chris Russo, in the U.S. Open Ballfire my senior year of high school and that’s what kind of got the ball rolling with coach [Jim Bracken],” said Engel.
“Compared to the other schools that I was talking to it seemed like a really good option for me. CSUN was close enough to home, but relatively far enough to get the real college experience,” said Engel.
Now a senior standout on the CSUN men’s golf team, Engel is trying to set an example for the freshmen and sophomores alike, just as the seniors and juniors did for him when he was a newcomer.
“Living with the only two freshmen on the team, we [junior Felix Mory and I] get to show them the ropes.” said Engel. “They are at different stages in their lives than we are, and it’s pretty cool to have them learn from you.”
Being a senior leader, Engel is always trying to push his teammates no matter what.
“I always tell them the only way to get better on and off the golf course is to work hard. We have a motto in the gym, champions are made on 1,000 invisible mornings,” said Engel. “It’s not necessarily what you do when people are watching, it’s about putting in the work behind the scenes that makes you a consistent golfer and a student.”
Engel, who has been named to two consecutive Big West All-Academic teams, as well as being named a Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-American Scholar while playing a career-high 36 rounds of golf last year, isn’t a bad example to learn from for his younger teammates.
“Even to stay eligible you have to perform well in school. It sets good precedent, that you are not going to do well as a golfer if you don’t put in the work in the classroom,” said Engel.
Reflecting on the very first time that he stepped on a golf course representing CSUN, Engel described his emotions.
“I was nervous. It was really cold outside. There was a hazard to the left and out of bounds to the righ,” said Engel. “It was really cool putting on the uniform for the first time and getting to represent everything that CSUN believes in because we are a big family here at CSUN.”