Spring season to bring big changes for golf program

By Lindsey Smith

After last week’s MIAC Golf Championships, the men’s and women’s golf teams find themselves looking forward to the upcoming spring season. “We had a very young team,” said new coach Tomas Adalsteinsson. “There were moments of brilliance and moments when people were not finding their game.” Adalsteinsson had a successful golfing career in his native Iceland, becoming Icelandic Junior golf champion in 2001. Last fall he was the assistant women’s soccer coach at Carleton College. Adalsteinsson has taken on a struggling golf program at Macalester. Each team has only one senior player, Tyler Hanck ’13 and Grace Caird ’13. Hanck assessed Adalsteinsson’s first season in charge. “He hasn’t changed a whole lot in the program,” Hanck said. The major changes, however, appear to be taking place in the spring season. The most controversial decision is the question of whether or not seniors will be able to play during the spring, a season traditionally devoted to training and improvement. “While the players aren’t performing well in the fall, spring is a developmental season,” Adalsteinsson said. The conflict with this approach is that developing seniors’ skills will be unable to contribute to the program during the spring. Adalsteinsson pointed out various other issues with allowing seniors to play during the spring. “By their last year, seniors may be focusing on other things and their minds are not 100 percent there,” he said, emphasizing that without full effort and commitment, the players will not add to the development of the program. Hanck suggested that there may also be budgetary restrictions involved with the decision. “It doesn’t appear that the budget is big enough to accommodate seniors playing in the spring,” he said. But Hanck is opposed to the idea of a senior-less spring season. “We’ve made our case pretty clearly,” he said. He pointed to the value of the experience and advice that seniors would contribute and to their four year involvement with the program. Shelly Rauvola ’16, one of three first-years on the women’s team, appreciated how Adalsteinsson coached the team. “I really like his approach to coaching,” she said. “He focuses a lot on psychology more than technique.” Rauvola also sees the value of having seniors around during the spring season. “[The] seniors provide good leadership, and I really like having them around and hearing about their experiences,” she said. Adalsteinsson does not fully oppose the idea of keeping the seniors around. He had only one condition. “I want to see seniors ready to give 100 percent of their time and commitment,” he said. If that condition is fulfilled, he appears to be open to allowing them to play. “It’s their choice if they play spring season.” Spring Break
Adalsteinsson also confirmed a rumor that he may cancel the team’s annual spring break trip, a tradition the golf team has had for the past 10 years. “I’m still looking into the spring break trip,” he said, “but I’m not seeing it fit in like it has in past years.” He was not clear on the exact role that financial restrictions played in the decision, but he confirmed that it was a consideration. “When you’re running a program you have to look into a lot of factors, and budget is definitely one of them,” he said. Rauvola was surprised that there were not plans to continue the spring break trip, but she was less than concerned. “I’m sure [Adalsteinsson] has something else in mind that will be more beneficial to the team,” she said. Adalsteinsson talked of taking a training trip during the fall instead. He said that it would be just one aspect of his vision for the future of the program, which involved intensive recruiting and development. “I’m trying to see the program develop in the long term,” he said. “A lot of my work has been involved with recruiting.” The players are also aware of the budgetary challenges that a small athletics program faces. “His hand was forced with the budget,” Hanck said. Most players are understanding of Adalsteinsson’s array of changes and hope that they will bring both teams more success in the future. refresh –>