45 percent of students at Pacific University are student-athletes. Many students at Pacific are recruited to play a varsity sport at the Division III level, this doesn’t always work out for some athletes and some decide to play another sport at the university.
Juniors Max Kirkendall and Dalton Turpen are two student-athletes who came to play a specific sport but decided to change sports after their first year.
Both got the opportunity to play for the golf team under coach Richard Warren after they decided to leave their respective sports.
Turpen came to Pacific originally with the intent to play baseball. He played a full year of baseball his freshman year, but decided to make the switch to golf his sophomore year.
“I had a semester that was very academically demanding and I decided to put in all my effort to try to excel at one thing rather than perform in a mediocre manner in both,” Turpen said. “I did not plan on playing golf. The opportunity to play on the golf team was presented to me a few months after I had made the decision not to play baseball. At that time I had already gotten my difficult academic semester over with and I felt I would have the time to commit to playing a sport again.”
Kirkendall played for the Boxer football team his freshman year, but eventually transitioned to playing for the golf team the following year.
“I made the switch because there was a lot of competition on the football team. You have to work really hard in practice on and off the field just to get a couple plays in a game.” Kirkendall said. “Football is a twenty-four seven thing and it caused me to lose my passion for the game. Golf was always something I did for fun and when I found out I could actually play for the team I really wanted to take advantage of that opportunity.”
While both are new to playing competitive golf, they have faced challenges in the process of transitioning to a new sport.
“Not having played any competitive golf until I came here was a big challenge,” Kirkendall said. “It was definitely an adjustment to go from playing golf for fun with friends, to playing against guys who have been playing their whole lives.”
Turpen faced the same challenges from not playing a competitive golf tournament since he was 11 years old. Turpen struggled at first to transition from a baseball swing to a golf swing.
“Some of the largest issues I have faced have come from the dissimilarities between the golf and baseball swing,” Turpen said.
Each year, coaches at Pacific get student-athletes who decide to leave the sport for different reasons. Head men’s basketball coach Tim Cleary added that this does happen from time to time.
“Reasons for student-athletes vary, there are times guys aren’t happy with their roles they have in the program,” Cleary said. “There are times when guys decide they want to focus more attention on their academics.”