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June 26, 2018
Life At Witt

Above Par Experience

How Ryan Mallette '20 will remember the Division III National Golf Tournament of 2018.

It's been a few weeks since the Division III National Golf Tournament, and I have started to reminisce on the experience. It has made me think about how important being a student-athlete at Wittenberg has meant to me so far in my collegiate career, and how exactly I got to this moment.

I have been a golfer my whole life.  Ever since I could walk, I knew how to swing a club.  My love for the game had not developed completely until high school when I met lifelong friends and started to realize that I had a talent for golfing at a higher level. Golf is something I look forward to enjoying for the rest of my life. The first and basically only reason that I started to look into coming to Wittenberg was golf. There have been countless other components of the campus (the community, faculty, staff, friends, and family) that have reassured me that I made the correct decision. I know that this is also true for most of the campus, since many of us are student-athletes who decided to go Division III to pursue a quality education while still enjoying the sport we love. All of the extracurriculars, including but not limited to athletics, are the reasons that have made the first half of my journey so worth it, and will continue to enhance my college experience.

The tournament was held at Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C., this year.  It is a four-day event, May 15-18, where the winner is named NCAA National Men's Golf Champion.

Just like any other tournament, nerves are present. Even though it is structurally the same as the countless other golf tournaments we play, the pressure and nerves get amplified at nationals. The big stage provides an atmosphere of pressure to have its effect. The best golfers are said to thrive under pressure and stand out from the rest of the competitors when it is all said and done.

I have found that golf is very similar to life in that way. There are plenty of opportunities to accept defeat, but as the classic saying goes, “it is a marathon, not a sprint.” Remaining calm, having a positive mindset, believing in yourself, and being confident in your ability are the only things you can control.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
* Herman Cain

Coming into the first day of the tournament, all the hard work is already done. Time spent in last week’s practice, the previous tournament, and the offseason, all prepared me for this week. All that is left is to believe in yourself and have fun enjoying the experience of playing on the national stage.

We were the defending champions, and going back-to-back was our goal. Even though golf is professionally an individual sport, in college it is quite the opposite. There was never an individual goal that was put in front of our team goal. We all wanted to do well for the benefit of the team, and for Wittenberg University.  That was the only thing going through our minds.

In the end, we finished in 8th place as a team. Short of our goal, but still quite a respectable finish. I finished in a tie for 7th place individually, which did not feel like much at the time, since I was focused on our finish as a team, but it is a great achievement that I will always be proud of.

The award ceremony didn't begin for two hours following the last day of the tournament.  My parents decided that they would wait the extra two hours to watch their son get recognized for being in the top 10. But the thing that left me speechless was when my coach, teammates, and even their parents wanted to do the same. Not to mention that it was raining, and we had an 8-hour drive to look forward to all the way back to Springfield, Ohio in the van that evening. They all waited… and waited… and waited. All for the five seconds when the man with the microphone blandly said, “Ryan Mallette, Wittenberg University.” They snapped a picture and that was it. But that moment meant so much more than that to me.

National Tournament 2018. It will from now on be a defining moment in my life, and it has nothing to do with my individual achievement.  It is because I experienced true perseverance in myself that I never knew was there. I saw myself thrive under pressure and accomplish something I did not even think about doing the week before, and because I experienced love and loyalty from my parents and my new family who I didn’t even know a couple years ago. 

My point is that my new family at Wittenberg had my back at a golf tournament, but I know that is only one of many times that attending this institution will prove to pay off.

There are many things more important than college athletics, but there is nothing more important than family.

Ryan Mallette ’20
Major: Biology
Hometown: Canton, Ohio

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About Wittenberg

A nationally ranked university for the liberal arts and sciences affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Wittenberg University has repeatedly been ranked throughout the years by the Princeton Review for the quality of its teaching and faculty, including 11th in the nation for "Best Classroom Experience" and 15th in the category "Professors Get High Marks" in the 2011 edition of Princeton's annual Best Colleges guide. Most recently, Wittenberg earned the No. 4 spot in the category of "Most Accessible Professors." Wittenberg appeared in the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges in 2013 and again in 2015. Additionally, Wittenberg currently has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any other four-year institution in the state, and has been recognized nationally for excellence in service and athletics.

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