From Challenges To Success

April 12, 2007

In high school he excelled in athletics and the classroom. In addition to participating in sports, he was active in extra-curricular activities and was on the honor roll.

After a tough transition from high school to college, redshirt freshman golfer Sam Christensen is adjusting to college and life as a golfer.

“He’s just a great kid to have around,” said Assistant Coach Adam Kaufman.

The Waterloo native had a successful high school career. He was a four-year letter winner in golf and in swimming. He was also named to the all-state, all-district, and all-conference teams as a junior and senior in both sports.

His stellar high school career extended into the classroom. He was on the advisory board for the National Honor Society and was also a part of the student senate.

However, the transition to college was a challenge for Christensen. He was picked up for a PAULA last fall and was suspended from the team for a while. His grades also started to slip.

Since then, Christensen has made an incredible turnaround. He’s hit the ball better on the course and even earned a 4.1 GPA last semester. He’s one of only 22 student athletes to have above a 4.0 for the semester.

“He got a rude awakening after getting picked up last fall. I think a lot of kids think they can go downtown and not get caught. But it only takes one time. It was a rude awakening. His GPA was lower. There was the threat of him not getting into dental school. But he gets it now,” said Kaufman.

Christensen says the transition was tough as both a student and an athlete.

“I’ve never had to study as much as I did then. I study a lot more now than high school. With golf in high school, you are on top all the time. But here, you’re one of nine, and everyone is good,” said Christensen.

Christensen says he’s learned to balance his time better.

“I’m better at managing my time. It’s a tough balance of school work, social life, and athletics, but I’ve gotten better at it,” he said.

His golf game has also improved greatly in the last couple of months.

“He struggled to break 80 early last fall,” said Kaufman. “His head wasn’t in it. He came back from winter break and worked hard in winter practice. He competed in his first competition over spring break. It didn’t go as well as he would have liked. He was nervous, he wasn’t confident in himself, and he didn’t trust himself. There’s been a steady improvement in his ability.”

Christensen was fighting for a spot on the travel team. While he missed out on the spot, Kaufman believes building his confidence will be the key to earning a spot next year.

“He needs to believe in himself and stay confident. He’s got a good swing, and he’s questioning it. We’ve got to help him believe that he’s got a good swing. The most important thing is scoring; chipping and putting and getting that ball in the hole. He’s got to not worry about his swing and just put up a low score,” said Kaufman.

Christensen agrees that he still has work to do. He hasn’t improved as much as he would have liked, but he plans on spending the summer on the course.

In addition to improving his own game, Christensen also wants to help his team. While he’d like to become all-Big Ten, he wants his team to win the Big Ten title.

His goals extend beyond the golf course as well. He has aspirations to become a doctor and to become involved in the Iowa Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (ISAAC).

“He wants to get into dental school. He wants to be an ISAAC Rep for next year. He wants to be president of ISAAC before he graduates. He has lofty goals, but it’s good to have him around for others to see those goals,” said Kaufman.

Kaufman believes with the changes he’s made this year, the sky is the limit for Christensen.

“He can be dedicated and committed if he wants to be. If he just applies himself he can do a lot of good things,” said Kaufman. “His time management is very good. He has good preparation for tests and exams. He just has to get his life in order.”

Written by Jennifer Bissell, sports information student assistant

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