As an 18-year-old entering college, there are many unknowns. For a student-athlete, there’s the obvious change in competition, learning to compete with the most elite athletes in Division I athletics. There’s also learning to manage one’s time between succeeding both in the classroom and on one’s respective field of play.
For the retiring members of Arizona men’s golf, their experience on the team has provided them the required skills to be successful in the next chapter of their lives. Erik Oja, Benson Liu, Parker Houston and Christian Colegrove make up the second graduating class for head coach Jim Anderson. For each of these seniors, they credit Anderson for setting them up for long-term success.
“Coach Anderson took working to another level,” senior Erik Oja said. “He always makes sure we are grinding. He is a perfect role model for working hard himself. He spends more time working than anyone else, so he helped me to step up my game and taught me how hard I need to work to be successful.”
For Colegrove, it only took a year for him to see that
“The big thing is understanding what the time commitment of college athletics is,” Colegrove said. “You need to know how to time manage and learn to use the time you are given effectively.
Anderson said his group of seniors not only made things easy for him this season but also for the future of the program.
“They have absolutely set us up to be successful in the future,” Anderson said. “They’ve proven that with their resilience and their willingness to work within a framework of a team. That is a standard that the underclassmen have learned from.”
The seniors will use each of the lessons taught by Anderson in their immediate future as they proceed into the real world. Whether working in golf or not, the skills they’ve learned as student-athletes will go beyond their athletic careers.
“I got a internship at golf performance center, a golf academy,” said Liu. “Coach is very detailed, and it has taught me to be more thorough in my course strategy, practice and game plans. That helps with teaching golf.”
Oja, a Palmer Cup European team selection, plans to become a pro golfer on the European tour upon concluding the post season at Arizona. To him, the experience he received at Arizona and his two years with Anderson have helped him to see his potential as a golfer.
Meanwhile, Colegrove and Houston will pursue careers in the business world.
Regardless of where these four golfers go in life, they will remember and embrace their student-athlete experiences as Wildcats.
“Overall, I’m so thankful I got the chance to play golf here, and the friendships I’ve made over the last four years,” Oja said. “This team had so much fun.”
“You have a campus that is very supportive of each other whether it be athletics or anything else,” Colegrove said. “We, as a team, are very proud to be part of the University of Arizona lifestyle. Being a part of this community is a way of life.”
In whatever is next for these four seniors, Anderson believes only great things are to come.
“If you want to be successful you have to set goals and use your time wisely,” Anderson said. “We have four bright guys who are going to be successful in whatever they choose to do in the future.”