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Sarkipato Gains Life Lessons During Calvin Men’s Golf Career

Sunday, June 02, 2013

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By Mitch Blankespoor

Four short years ago, a freshman named Dave Sarkipato came to Calvin with the hopes of being the star on Calvin’s golf team. Fast-forward to the present day.  Sarkipato, now a senior, still strives to be the best golfer he can be, but the team’s goals come before his own.

Sarkipato played mainly tennis growing up.  It wasn’t until high school that he picked up golf.

“I was solely focused on tennis throughout grade school,” said Sarkipato.  “It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I picked up golf.”

A 2009 graduate of Kalamazoo (Mich.) Christian High School, Sarkipato was a four-year letter winner in tennis. He made the jayvee golf team his freshman year, but promptly made varsity his final three years. 

When it came time to make a decision on where to attend college, Sarkipato visited another college in Tennessee before visiting and ultimately committing to Calvin. 

“I knew I wanted to play golf at the collegiate level,” Sarkipato said.  “After I visited Calvin and talked to Coach [Brian] Bolt, I knew Calvin was the right place for me.”

Sarkipato’s freshman year was a whirlwind. Along with the big adjustment to the college lifestyle, Dave also had to make the adjustment to collegiate golf. 

“During tryouts and the majority of my freshman season, I had the mindset I could be the best golfer in the MIAA,” said Sarkipato. “I was really focusing on my individual game more than the overall team’s outcome.” 

The transition from year one to year two was a big one for the Sarkipato.

“I fell in love with golf because it is individualistic,” said Sarkipato. “You can go out and practice whenever you want. After my freshman year, I realized my individual success means nothing without the success of the team.”

Dave’s sophomore season was a magical one for the Calvin men’s golf program.  Down 19 strokes with just one of the eight MIAA (Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association) Jamborees left, the Knights defeated the Thunder of Trine University by 22 strokes, to win the program’s first-ever conference title.

“Every alum and member of the golf team that season played a part in that conference championship,” said Sarkipato. “Golf is not a sport that naturally draws attention. That conference championship put Calvin golf on the map.”

Sarkipato earned All-MIAA honors for the first time in his career during his junior season. Along with Ben Kuiper, he was named to the All-MIAA second team. His team, however, did not repeat the success of 2010. The Knights finished sixth in the MIAA. 

“The desire to repeat was certainly there,” said Sarkipato.  “The work ethic was not.  You cannot carry yourself to victory on talent alone in the long run.”

Sarkipato’s senior year was a memorable one for him and his team. He was named to the All-MIAA second team for the second consecutive year. Sarkipato also earned Medalist honors, given to the golfer with the lowest score at an MIAA Jamboree. He won with a round of 73 at Wuskowhan Country Club, the home course of Hope College.

“My round at Wuskowhan was a collaboration of four years of falling short of finishing a round,” said Sarkipato.

Calvin also won the conference championship, defeating rival Hope by 10 strokes.  The Knights earned a spot in the MIAA’s NCAA Spring Qualifying Tournament.  Calvin, as the top seed, will host two of the three rounds. 

According to head coach Brian Bolt, the two conference championships as well as Sarkipato’s All-MIAA honors are a testament to his work ethic.

“Dave works hard at everything he does,” said Bolt.  “He has been a huge part of the program over the past four years.”

Sarkipato’s career is not over yet, but his participation in the men’s golf program thus far has been positive.

“The last four years have been a growing experience, but I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Sarkipato said. “The ability for me to impact my teammates, coaches and opponents not only in golf but in other aspects of life is the driving force behind why I participated in collegiate athletics. Golf is just another sport at the end of the day.  It’s the life lessons you carry with you that really matter.”

Posted in: Knightfile: Men's Golf
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