Sunday, May 12, 2019

"The Last Ride" by seniors Isaiah Salinda and Brandon Wu

Golf is a fickle game with seemingly more lows than highs. Many people say it is the true test of character. This season has been a testament to that statement.

We came off a great summer of golf ready to start our senior campaigns and lead our new, young team. Playing the toughest fall schedule in the country on some very difficult courses (Olympia Fields, Colonial, Muirfield Village, and Golf Club of Georgia), our season got off to a rocky start with our best team finish being 8th halfway through the season and our ranking dropping outside the top 40. Coach Ray and Coach Bortis talk a lot about trusting the process and controlling what we can control, and that we did. They pushed us and the whole team extremely hard in the offseason through 7 AM practices and workouts. This forced us to reflect on what we need to do better, both as players and captains. Our team was brought closer together and motivated for the spring season. Instead of being demoralized and caught up in the results, we stayed patient, hungry, and determined to turn the season around. We knew we were better than we were playing, and if we kept doing things the right way it would only be a matter of time until we started to “click” as a unit (shoutout to our favorite Marine Matt Bortis aka “The Unit”).
The patience and perseverance paid off. The Southern Highlands Collegiate in Las Vegas was a key turning point for us. Brandon led the way with a 3rd place finish and we finished 3rd as team in a very strong field. With this newly found confidence, we defended our home turf at Stanford and won again at the Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo (with each of us picking up our first individual collegiate titles in the process). The good vibes continued at the Pac 12 Championships in Eugene, where we triumphed over UCLA by 7 shots to complete the hat trick. Reflecting on it now, the battle scars and the struggles we went through as a team in the fall made these wins even more gratifying.

We stepped onto campus four years ago as naïve freshmen, “bright eyed and bushy tailed” as Coach Ray would say. Now as seasoned veterans, grateful for all the lessons learned along the way, we are excited as ever to represent the Cardinal one more time and proudly wear the “S” on our chests in our last post-season. We look forward to riding the momentum from this past month and ending our careers on a high note.

Go Card!
Isaiah Salinda and Brandon Wu
Brandon and Isaiah - click on image to enlarge

Friday, May 3, 2019

Rise: My first year at Stanford University

One of the most noticeable differences I have discerned between the other kids at my high school and myself was the disparity between the goals we pursued and the effort we put into our goals. There are only two people in the world I can attribute my work ethic I wake up with every day to: my mum and my dad. From a very young age, I was lucky enough to have incredibly supportive parents who got me hooked onto the game of golf and never failed to lend a helping hand whenever the textbooks got too heavy throughout my academic career. It is without a doubt that my mum and dad are definitely one of the biggest inspirations in my life. When I was younger, I slept in one morning instead of going to practice, and my dad told me something that I will never forget. "Freddie, if you're feeling tired and want to sleep in that's fine. But if you truly want to do something exceptional, then you can't back down. You need to get up and rise to the occasion.". I've carried those words around with me ever since and anytime that I've felt like pressing the snooze button on my phone or stay at home when it gets hot enough to cook an egg on the concrete outside, I remind myself of what my dad said and do my best to rise to the occasion. 

I had heard a myriad of stories before coming to Stanford and to say I was excited to start college was a vast understatement. You can imagine how motivated an aspiring amateur golfer can get, when they are headed to the very same university that Tiger Woods had gone to. Even when I said goodbye to my parents and boarded the airplane, I still couldn't fathom that I was going to become a Stanford Cardinal. I started dreaming about all the tournaments I would win, all the majors I could pursue, and the friends that I would make. However, after a few quarters here at Stanford I realized that my daydreams were a little ambitious. Reality had caught up to me, and I realized that college life wasn't going to be as simple as I thought. Even though I had settled into my new living complex, gotten used to the fifteen-hour time difference, and ingrained a map of campus into my memory, the relentless speed at which the quarters can go kept catching me off guard. One of the things I found tough was balancing my schedule here at Stanford. It was quite common for us to fly across the country while having a computer science assignment to do. However, the scary thing for me was having to accept the fact that it doesn't get any easier. New material will always be covered in classes you miss, p-sets get harder as the quarter goes on, and you still have to show up to the gym even if you have a midterm in the following hour. It really isn't easy, I've fallen behind many times over the last few quarters, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I haven't thought about handing in a sub-par assignment or sleeping in on the weekend instead of practicing, but those words my dad said to me still come to mind. Rise. 

It was a lot harder at first to push myself since I didn't have my mom and dad right behind me. But despite this, I do believe that it is essential to mention how well Stanford prepares you for the real world. This is where one of the most significant benefits of Stanford is highlighted: its plethora of support systems in place for the wellbeing of all students. Aside from the endless amount of tutoring we have access to, the vast variety of trainers for athletes, and some of if not the best practice facilities (for all sports) in the world at our disposal, one of the most important support systems that any student will interact with is the family that you will create here at Stanford. For me, everyone on the golf team became a large part of my new family. It was incredible to see how quickly we all got to know each other and how many memories we made and keep making. I remember the guys showing me around campus during my first week of university. One fond memory I have was learning about the fueling station that athletes have access to here at Stanford. Getting a free protein shake- that tastes absolutely amazing- as well as plenty of other delicious and healthy foods, is something I still look forward too. I remember the seniors laughing at the front of the van as all the freshman would scream out the words to 'Mo Bamba' on the way to a tournament. I remember the guys cracking hilarious jokes with the coaches on the driving range and thinking to myself, "this is where I belong."  Thus, it was in my new-found family where I gained the strength to keep pushing forward whenever times got rough. I found that my teammates and coaches would always be there willing to lend a helping hand, and no matter what happened, they would always want the absolute best for me. From going out of their way in the mornings by giving me lifts to workout, taking me out for brunch right before practice, helping me with classes and scheduling events, or even just merely giving me tips for my putting, my team is always there to help me be my very best. The freedom I have and the new responsibilities that I must handle are smaller facets of a larger journey where I believe I can truly discover myself and make a difference in this world. Although my teammates still have trouble understanding  my accent half the time,  deal with the fact that I am notorious for stealing their ball markers, and eat with the hunger of  ten adult men, they never miss an opportunity to be there with me in my highs or give me the tough love I need to pull me up from my lows. With the amazing support from my friends, coaches, and teammates that I have here at Stanford, the struggles I have and will face certainly become a lot less daunting. So, whenever I facetime my mum and dad I can happily say, I’m having so much fun at university and I’m rising to any, and every occasion. 

Go Card.

Fred Lee

Monday, January 7, 2019

My Freshmen Experience

Going into Stanford, I had the perfect vision of what my life here would be like. An entire childhood of Tiger fanaticism had obviously ingrained Stanford into my mind as the dream school. All my life I had been waiting for the moment when I would step on campus as a Cardinal and begin the best years of my life. Perfect weather, endless sun, world-famous professors, and, of course, the best practice facility that this country had to offer. I could barely wrap my mind around the fact that soon Siebel would be at my complete disposal.
However, I had also heard from others that life here wasn’t as peachy as it might appear from the outside. A part of me knew that my expectations of Stanford were perhaps a little too idealistic. So, from the time when the team moved into our first temporary living complex, I was waiting for some sort of catch. However, I can say now that the experience I received so far is better than anything I could have imagined.
Don’t get me wrong, the schedule is undoubtedly more intense than I expected. VersaClimber punishments for showing up only a couple minutes late to practice, desperately warming up my numb fingers at 6:30 AM, staying up late to turn in a problem set, then taking a quick nap before going to practice -- these new realities of life were tough at first, but each has made me a stronger individual.
One of the more interesting new aspects of my life here was getting enlisted into Camp Bortis. Every Friday morning, our deceptively amiable new assistant coach would drop his facade and put us through the most hellish workouts I ever had to go through. Though I would learn that the main point of the regimen wasn’t to strengthen our bodies, but our minds. The rules were simple for each session: you could quit at any time you want and you are not allowed to cheer each other on. After all, golf is an individual sport and when you are struggling in the middle of an important round, there is no one out there to help pick you up except yourself. One of our Friday workouts was a 5-mile run, something that I have never come even close to attempting before. But to my surprise, I not only completed the run but actually finished first (with one less shirt on me than I started with). What Coach gave us that day was an important lesson: we have a lot more in us than we think and “impossible” shouldn’t ever be in our minds.
But perhaps the biggest thing I had to learn for myself this quarter, is where golf and academics fall in my life. High school was undoubtedly a much simpler time. I would go to school, practice golf til sundown, do my homework, and then go to sleep. Now, every day comes a question of whether I want to get more work done on my computer science project or if I need to spend a couple extra hours working on my short game that day. It's a difficult dynamic to balance because at its core it asks me to decide what I find more significant to myself. Time will tell, but some of my recent finals are making a professional golf career look very appealing. I’ll let you know for sure when grades come out.
Of course, I can’t finish this without saying something about my new teammates. I feel that the guys here are like brothers that I never had and it’s perhaps the very best part of my Stanford experience. Despite annoying the team with unprompted karaoke sessions in the van, overenthusiasm during workouts, and jokes that apparently only I find funny, they’re still always on my side. They support me in my ups, help me in my downs, and give me some tough love when I need it. They’re always happy to share their knowledge and experience with me and it certainly makes life here less intimidating, as I was warned of just about every possible pitfall that I might face. So while the street cred that I acquired from getting into Stanford is certainly nice, it is these new connections that I formed that really make my life here amazing. My only hope is that I can make them last a lifetime.

Go Card!

-Daulet Tuleubayev