Thursday, June 9, 2011
Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose--Metro Spirit 6-9
Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Or is it?
In concluding a championship run that has proven to be even more improbable than last years, the Augusta State golf team has completely outdone themselves in defending their title and not letting their crown grace the head of some imposter. This is in no way, shape or form discrediting what the Jaguars did last year; they have the hardware to prove that 2010 was theirs. And that's just my point. The year after a team wins a National Championship is arguably the hardest. I can speak on this as I have been a part of two teams that were coming off of National Championship seasons in football (Georgia Military College- '01 champs, '02 runner-up, Valdosta State University-'04) These teams were similar to ASU in that we returned a large chunk of our production-- in ASU's case, they returned everyone-- and each were the school's first National Championship teams in their respected sports.
And how exactly did we fare with the target on our backs?
A disastrous 5-5 record at GMC, and an underwhelming 9-3 season at VSU. Needless to say we were still hung over from the kudos and ticker-tape parades in the worst kind of way. Our championship chalice still overflowing with ego and stories of "how perfect last year was."
While Head Coach Josh Gregory can look and feel dumbfounded about what just happened, his eye for a certain kind of player--not just talent--is what delivered this championship season. A team of gamers able to shield the blinding, adoring light in a game that is sometimes ripe with entitlement and privilege.
By now we know who each player is and how he got here. Each story leading in a roundabout way to Augusta, Ga. On the outside, it looks like an impressive turn of luck. Like an elementary class fortunate to somehow have enough puzzle pieces still in the box to make a portrait after the high schoolers riffled through and took what they wanted. But they never had to be perfect, they just had to be themselves.
College golf is a sport that is mainly stroke play all year that leads into an ultra-competitive match play tournament to decide it all. Which plays right into ASU's team full of undertakers disguised as golfers. Over the past two years, against the Jaguars is where the nation's best have come to expire. Staring at the trophy ahead of them in wonderment, with a season worth of expectations weighing them down, it only tightened the noose before Coach Gregory's boys kicked the stool out from underneath and left them for all to see. Match play with the Jaguars has evolved into an event where the future stars of the PGA tour come out looking flawed and exposed.
So many memories and accomplishments this group created with their bare hands over the past two years, with wedges and woods as their tools of trade. Each member important in his own right. Whether it was the fire in the belly of Mitch Krywulycz, the work ethic of Henrik Norlander, or Patrick Reed's competitiveness, they each maximized their talent with the help of chief architect, Josh Gregory, to build this once in a lifetime team.
" I don't know what just happened. We just won back-to-back National Championships somehow." --Josh Gregory.
Oh I think you have a pretty good idea, coach.