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UVM Sports

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 school’s sports history. That was the situation UVM freshman Tom Rogers found himself in on October 22, locked in a one-hole playoff with Bryant College’s Jason Clary, the New England Intercollegiate Golf Association Championship at stake.

“Tom seemed pretty cool,” Golf team Coach Mike Gilligan said afterward. “I don’t 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 Nomar’s 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 wasn’t exactly dying to do it,” Rogers says. “Golf didn’t 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 UVM’s 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 isn’t usually something you think of as a team sport,” Rogers says, “but there’s definitely a high level of camaraderie on our team. When we’re on the road, we’re having a ton of fun and we’re constantly talking over the course between rounds. There’s a strong bond, my teammates are some of the best guys I’ve 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. Louis’s 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.

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