Monday, November 19, 2007

A growing experience for freshman Matt Kennerknecht

My first fall has been an awesome experience. Some of it is still a little hard to believe, but looking back, I would relate it most to a session we had with one of the psychology professors, who wrote on the "fixed" vs. "growth" mindset. Basically, a person with a fixed mindset is one that lives in the results, never accepts failure, and worries an unreasonable amount about how others will judge and perceive him/her; on the other hand, a person with a growth mindset is one that embraces struggles and challenges, and sees failure as progress, realizing that without struggles and failure, you can never have true success. Coming in as a freshman, I definitely had a lot to learn and a lot of room to grow. My standards in school, golf, and fitness were all raised to a new level, ones that I never guessed I would find in such a short period of time. Along with this process came great struggles and a more than a few failures - 7 a.m. workouts that blindsided me with a new level of difficulty every week, pushing me to the point of total exhaustion; swing changes that put me, for a short period, at a great disadvantage, trying to compete amongst the best team in the country; and seemingly insurmountable schoolwork and time restraints, with such a busy season right out of the shoot.

Now that it's finished, I can look back and be proud of it all. As many times as I felt like I wasn't going to make it through running, as many times as I stood over a shot, playing against my teammates in qualifying, grip in a weird position not knowing where the ball was going to go, I made it through everything. Never giving up and always being there on time, with the right attitude and the right mindset, is to me, a huge accomplishment. Now that I know the ropes a little bit, Stanford golf will still be a grind, always on my toes and always in competition, but at least I'll know not to be afraid, and not to worry about whether I'm going to make it, because the hard part is over and now it's just hard work. Traveling to my first tournament in Palm Springs was a great experience within the experience, and now I have an even better idea of where I need to go, and with this team and these coaches, I know I have the resources to get there. I've gotten closer with a lot of my teammates, and that bonding is a fundamental part, I feel, of this experience and the team's success. I'll continue to work on team dynamic and hopefully grow a little closer every week with these 8 other guys and our two coaches.

I've met some amazing people this fall. Like I said, this whole experience has been a little surreal. Coming from the east coast, I have an opportunity at Stanford to play some of the best courses in the world, ones that seemed so far off (literally) when I was on the other side of the country. Just last weekend, we got to go down as a team early Sunday morning and play Spyglass Hill. Playing on the Monterey Peninsula has been a dream ever since I started playing the game, listening to the life-lasting memories and stories my dad told me from his few cherished trips with his golf buddies to play Pebble, staying at the lodge and going around to Poppy Hills and Spyglass, too. In our journeys, and even around campus at the practice facility or up at the course, I've met some of the most brilliant, powerful people in the world, Stanford products that went on to global success in business, etc. I've also met a few celebrities, as to be expected on the west coast. Being a member of this team, I feel so spoiled a lot of the time. These people, the places we go, the treatment we get. I was on a cloud for the first few weeks, and still now whenever something special happens, I can't help but smile and think, "wow, there's something that doesn't happen every day." I know there's only more to come, and I couldn't be more proud and more honored to be a part of this prestigious program, surrounded by some of the best players and the most powerful minds in the world.

Matt Kennerknecht, Freshman- Matt's golf team webpage

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