A couple of Alabama State golfers have been warming up once they overheard a remark from an opposing staff.
“How are faculties like that right here and taking part in like that?”
For ASU’s head coach Quincy Heard, it was a well-recognized query. It was early March, and “right here” marked the second spherical of the Kiawah Island Spring Basic, the most important match within the nation hosted in South Carolina. ASU “taking part in like that” foreshadowed the ladies’s program setting a program scoring report with a 912 (+48) rating for the occasion.
Heard — a U.S. Navy veteran turned PGA skilled — and ASU, an traditionally Black school not identified for golf, are rising within the sport at a time when HBCU athletics are gaining relevancy. ASU is one in every of about 25 HBCUs to characteristic a golf program, per the Black Faculty Golf Coaches’ Affiliation. However Heard, together with longtime Hornets assistant coach Robert Clark, make Alabama State the one HBCU with two PGA professionals on workers.
“I wasn’t coming right here to be second-best at something,” Heard stated after uprooting his life in Portland, Oregon, for the gig in Montgomery, his hometown.
The ladies’s staff completed twenty fourth on the Kiawah Basic and the boys’s grouping put collectively its greatest efficiency of the season per week later. The pandemic shortened the Hornets’ first season beneath Heard, although he believes this system was establishing itself earlier than the lockdown.
From Makur Maker and Howard to Deion Sanders and Jackson State, HBCU athletics are increasing. The curiosity has reached Montgomery, with NBA veteran Mo Williams heading ASU’s males’s basketball staff. Native businessman Alfred Seawright observed, donating a brand new staff van to the golf program forward of its 2021 season.
9 years in the past, Seawright, an ASU alum, funded the golf staff’s begin. Seawright, the CEO of Medical Place, has gifted a series of donations throughout the River Region and believed within the imaginative and prescient of Clark, then ASU’s head coach. He initially coated the price of Clark’s wage, Seawright stated.
Final yr, Clark approached Seawright once more, this time about Heard. Eight years after selecting up the game, Heard was elected to the PGA’s membership committee. In 2011, Heard began a basis for athletes within the foster-care system. Now, Heard was in line to be ASU’s new coach.
“That is one in every of my college students,” Clark informed Seawright, “… We’re gonna flip this program round.”
Seawright met Heard and was enthralled by his imaginative and prescient. Heard talked about nationwide titles and bettering the lives of student-athletes. Seawright needed to assist, so he gifted a brand new van, which was designed by a member of the ASU athletics workplace and utilized by a neighborhood enterprise. The gamers just like the 2020 Mercedes, Heard stated. It’s an enchancment over the hallmark rickety seats and no air-conditioning of the previous van.
“I feel in Montgomery have been set to see a complete completely different degree of golf,” Seawright stated, “… I hope the van could make a distinction. There’s nothing like having one thing model new.”