New England's Best
Freshmen golfer is first
Catamount champ in 38 years
Standing over a putt, a college golfer is better off not thinking about
adding a chapter to his schools sports history. That was the situation
UVM freshman Tom Rogers found himself in on October 22, locked in a one-hole
playoff with Bryant Colleges Jason Clary, the New England Intercollegiate
Golf Association Championship at stake.
Tom seemed pretty cool, Golf team Coach Mike Gilligan said
afterward. I dont think he realized how big a deal this was.
With perfect calm, Rogers sank the putt, won the individual title, and
put himself in the UVM record books alongside John Donnelly 65,
the 1964 NEIGA champ and the only other Catamount to win the New England
crown. Things got a bit rowdier when the ball went down. The rest
of the team, even more than me, went a little crazy, Rogers says.
It was intense. I was just so surprised.
In the post-Tiger world, promising young golfers often have their stubby
fingers wrapped around the grip of a Big Bertha about the time they can
toddle up to a tee. Not the case with Rogers, who spent most of his sporting
childhood playing hockey, soccer, basketball, or dreaming of someday taking
over Nomars job as the Red Sox shortstop.
Credit Rogers grandfather for shifting his focus to the small ball
just five years ago. My grandpa always talked about getting me and
my brothers out there, but I wasnt exactly dying to do it,
Rogers says. Golf didnt look too interesting to me.
That changed. Immediately hooked, Rogers memories of the summer
of his fourteenth year are of the world as his golf course. We played
as much as we could, wherever we could, Rogers says, admitting that
the learning process included a few broken windows along the way.
By the time he got to Holderness School, Rogers was one of the top young
golfers in New England, a fast track that he has clearly kept himself
on with his championship on the Captains Club course in Brewster, Massachusetts.
Rogers, who is studying marketing and finance in the School of Business
Administration, took a while to find his game this fall. But things started
to come together later in the season, and he went into the championships
feeling like he could contend. Playing the Post and Starboard courses
in Brewster for the first time ever, Rogers recorded consecutive rounds
of 74, which put him in a tie atop 232 golfers after two days of competition.
Five minutes later, the two leaders were stepping up to the tee for their
playoff. Gilligan, more familiar to most Catamount fans as UVMs
hockey coach, saw his main role as steadying the young golfer. Rogers
landed his first drive of the playoff in a bunker 145 yards from the green.
Heading up the fairway, Gilligan said, Just have fun. Just
what Rogers needed to hear, some perspective, some calm. His shot from
the sand hit the center of the green.
Championships aside, Rogers is happy with his new golf home in northern
New England. He jokes that he may have had a little advantage at New Englands,
being a Vermont golfer on a cold, breezy day on the Cape. While other
teams were shivering, the Catamount golfers were enjoying their warmest
rounds in weeks.
Golf isnt usually something you think of as a team sport,
Rogers says, but theres definitely a high level of camaraderie
on our team. When were on the road, were having a ton of fun
and were constantly talking over the course between rounds. Theres
a strong bond, my teammates are some of the best guys Ive met.
Big Year for Cats in NHL
Pro hockey fans with UVM ties have plenty of chances to see former Catamounts
in action this year, as Vermont alumni are playing important roles for
a number of National Hockey League teams.
Martin St. Louis 97 is skating fast as ever for the Tampa
Bay Lightning. He got off to a quick start and was ranked third in scoring
after the first ten games of the NHL season.
Tim Thomas 97, St. Louiss teammate on the 1996 Frozen
Four team, was called up by the Boston Bruins early in the season and
quickly made the most of his chance, winning his first two games in goal
and notching a .928 save percentage.
Aaron Miller 93, who teamed with LeClair on the 2002 U.S.
Olympic hockey team, was on the injured reserve list early in the season
but got his season underway with the Los Angeles Kings in November.
Twelve-year NHL veteran John LeClair 91 scored his 300th
goal as a Philadelphia Flyer in early November and was among the leagues
top scorers before injuring his shoulder in early December. Patrick
Sharp is also on the Flyers roster.