April 27, 2012
TUCSON, Ariz. - Student-athletes at the University of Arizona receive an incredible amount of support from the community, but few have given back like senior golfer Philip Bagdade.
As a golfer, Bagdade came to the Wildcats after being named Most Valuable Player his sophomore, junior, and senior year at Sheldon High School in Eugene, Ore. He was ranked third on the golf team at Arizona his freshman year and played 42 rounds.
"Phil came out in his freshman year and played really well for us," Assistant Coach Andy Barnes said. "He played pretty much every tournament and played in the NCAA's."
In his senior year, Bagdade has placed in the top-40 twice and will participate in the Pac-12 tournament this weekend.
"Now to finish, I think more of his priorities have become in order," Barnes said. "I think he understands where he is in his life and that he is moving on to the business world. It freed him up to where golf has become easier for him. We hope he is leaving on a high note in that this is his last few tournaments of his senior year and we expect big things in the last three weeks of the year."
In addition to emerging as a key member on the golf team, Bagdade has used his status to give back to the community.
"Being a student-athlete here has made me realize that it's such a privilege to be a student-athlete at a place where the community is so behind the University," Bagdade said. "It really is the only show in town. So it's really fun to receive that kind of attention but then I want to be able to show the community how much I and my teammates appreciate it. It has been really fun to be more involved in the community."
Not only has Bagdade gone to speak at middle schools, but he has also visited children in hospitals, helped out in the Love of Reading Week, the Special Olympics and a wide variety of other things in the community.
"I've made more of an effort these last couple of years to get out," Bagdade said. "I mean going to a middle school or something and talking to a class for 40 minutes is really not a difficult thing to do and I remember when I was that age and I saw college golfers or college football players and I would think `oh man that's really cool!' so it's really fun for me to think that there is any sort of chance that they look at me in the same light. To be able to go there and say `look this really isn't impossible, it's difficult but if you work hard you can do it.'"
As a business major, giving back to the community helps Bagdade think about his future. Golf has been a part of Bagdade's life for a long time but soon he will end his career as a student-athlete and begin a new life chapter.
"Phil has used his student-athlete title to really benefit him and the society here in Tucson," Barnes said. "I know he's embraced his role as co-president of the Student Athletic Advisory Council. I think it is one, to boost his resume, but two, to give back to the hospitals, to the charities and foundations in town. He has gotten our team involved in community service in the area."
As the year winds to a close, Bagdade looks back on his years at Arizona and the relationships he has made. While golf will remain an important part of his life, Bagdade is excited for his future.
"I still have a very huge connection with golf just because it has been something that I've committed so much of my life to," Bagdade said. "I think at this point, I mean it's incredibly cheesy, but I'm a Wildcat now. I'm a business major so I feel a family sense in that way also with my academic family; in particular I have a great group of friends I go to school with that aren't athletes."
Bagdade will leave with fond memories and great expectations. His community service and his role on the team has benefitted not only his future, but others in the community.