Why DePaul club golf has found success and how they will sustain it

Like most new teams, clubs or businesses, it takes time to build success. You have to find the right people to run the ship, and the right people to keep it afloat.

Just after their third season as a club, DePaul University’s club golf team has already competed in three NCCGA (National Collegiate Club Golf Association) national championships.

Club founder, former club President and recent graduate, Adam Gracik, is the reason this team exists. 

IMG_3623
Club founder Adam Gracik attempting to sink a putt at the 2018 NCCGA Spring National Championship. (Photo By: Dan McDaid)

“I transferred here from Mizzou in 2015,” Gracik said. “I played golf in high school for three years, so I missed competing and I was getting bored of always playing for fun.

“I saw that there was no club golf team at DePaul, so I figured why not make an attempt to start one and then see how it goes.”

Little did Gracik know he would find lots of talent on DePaul’s campus. Including two former Division I golfers, Pat Mullaney (Butler University) and Noreen Caporusso (University of Northern Iowa).

IMG_3441.JPG
Noreen Caporusso was one of two girls competing at the 2018 NCCGA Spring National Championship in St. Louis. (Photo By: Dan McDaid)

“As soon as I found them, I knew we could be legit.” Gracik said. “Then it was just a matter of finding some solid players who could at least contribute.

“Pat and Noreen are the type of players that can carry a team, and they did that for us.”

Mullaney (2017) and Caporusso (2018) have both graduated now, and only one player remains from the original team.

mullaney noreen.jpg
Pat Mullaney looking to make a putt at the 2016 NCCGA Spring National Championship in West Virginia, as Noreen Caporusso watches from behind. (Photo By: Dan McDaid)

“Now a lot of the original group is gone,” Gracik said. “Before I left I made sure to have at least 20 people on the team in order to keep it going and to make sure I found the right people to turn the club over to.”

As the first three years have flown by, Gracik and DePaul club golf have had nothing but success. Reaching three consecutive NCCGA spring national championships along the way.

New club President Patrick Mulvaney will take over the reigns for Gracik, in hopes of keeping up the clubs success.

Mulvaney just finished his first full year on the DePaul club golf team. As a Health Science Pre-Med major he will need to have good time management skills in order to handle school-work and the responsibility that comes along with being the president of the club.

IMG_3380.JPG
New club president Patrick Mulvaney on the tee at Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis. (Photo By: Dan McDaid)

“I know that there is a lot of responsibility that comes along with being the president of a club here at DePaul.” Mulvaney said. “I’ve learned a lot from Adam over the past year, and I’ve been able to watch him run tournaments, as well as organize activities and practices for the team.”

Another responsibility of being the club president is having the ability to put together the right rosters in order for the team to compete at the highest level.

“There are a lot of good golfers on college campuses everywhere,” Caporusso said. “Many of them like me who played at the highest level in college, so you just have to find them.

“There are also a lot of great players out there that have the ability to play at the highest level, but choose not to because of the time-consumption and how hard it is to juggle course-work with practice and tournaments all the time.”

Before he left, Gracik put together a solid nucleus of four players that will be around for a few years to come.

Two specific players are sophomore Joey Fremgen and freshman Nick Bavaro. In the fall, Bavaro was playing division III golf at Augustana College, before deciding to transfer mid year to be a bit closer to home.

During the spring season, Bavaro and Fremgen posted some low scores, leading DePaul to two NCCGA Great Lakes regional tournament titles. Those two victories led to a national championship birth.

Sophomore Joey Fremgen in the first regional tournament at Harborside International in Chicago. (Photo By: Dan McDaid)

The top eight players from DePaul headed down to St. Louis for a two day tournament against the top 27 teams in the country. It was Graciks last chance at a national title for a team that has meant a lot to him.

“I was pretty stoked that we were able to get a chance to compete for our third national championship.” Gracik said. “I wanted to take advantage of my last opportunity, but unfortunately we fell up short.”

DePaul ended up finishing 21 out of 27 teams. But one thing they were able to gain from it was getting younger players the experience in big tournament situations.

“The first day I was way more nervous than I should have been, and I played my worst round of the season.” Bavaro said. “Thankfully the older guys on the team gave me a few words of wisdom before day two and I was able to play a lot better.

IMG_3861.JPG
Freshman Nick Bavaro dialed in on his tee shot at the 2018 NCCGA Spring National Championship. (Photo By: Dan McDaid)

“Even though we came up short, I’m glad I was able to compete on that stage, it will give me and some of the other young guys some experience for the future.”

Mulvaney and the rest of the management team will continue to look around DePaul to  find some more talent to add to the roster in 2019, in order to continue the success that they have seen in their short period as a club.

Gracik already did a great job at putting Mulvaney and the club in a great position to continue to compete after he moves on. With a few veterans and some young talented players, DePaul’s next goal is to make it to their first ever Fall National Championship this upcoming December.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Conference rivals meet for the first time in 2018

img_1615.jpg
Ian Steinorth on first base after an early base knock (Photo By: Dan McDaid)

The Oak Park River Forest (OPRF) Huskies made the trip to Elmhurst to take on their division rivals, the York Dukes in their first meeting of the season Monday.

The Dukes currently trail the Huskies in the West Suburban Silver conference standings. This series could have a major impact on the way the conference shakes out.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 8.30.02 PM
West Suburban Silver Conference standings (By: Max Preps)

Mound Matchup:

Griffin Holderfield (Oak Park River Forest):

Holderfield is a solid pitching prospect in the class of 2019. He is committed to attend Creighton University after he graduates to play baseball at the Division-I level.

“Griffin is a phenomenal ball player for us,” an OPRF parent said. “Any time he is on the mound, we all feel pretty confident that he will get it done.”

“It’s pretty easy to be confident in a player who is already committed to play baseball at the next level.”

IMG_1606.jpg
Griffin Holderfield winds up for the pitch (Photo By: Dan McDaid)

Charlie Pakenas (York):

Pakenas is a multi-sport athlete. He was the quarterback for the football team the past two years. Pakenas has had a strong season so far on the mound, but he will face a tough test when he takes on the Huskies.

“Charlie has some good stuff,” York assistant coach Bobby Fischer said. “But OPRF can really swing the bat so it should be a tough challenge for him.”

“One thing we can always count on with Charlie is that he will always battle, no matter the situation.”

IMG_1600.jpg
York’s Charlie Pakenas working hard on the mound    (Photo By: Dan McDaid)

The Rivalry:

When it comes to a conference matchup, there is always a lot more on the line. Therefore most conference games are heated and more intense. In a matchup between these two teams there is always something to play for. Whether its for a spot atop the standings or just for pride, you can always count on both teams giving it their all.

“When I was at York, OPRF was always somewhere atop the standings,” Former York baseball and football player, Mike Trumbull said. “So we knew every time we got to play them we had something to prove, no matter what sport it was.”

“The WSS conference is one of the top conferences in the state for athletics, so any time you played a conference opponent it was a great measuring stick to see where we were at.”

The two schools are only separated by 11 miles.

“We know that we are a spot behind them in the conference standings,” Fischer said. “So that gives the guys a bit more motivation and something to play for.”

The Result:

The Huskies got on the board right off the bat, scoring a run in the first inning, putting some early pressure on Pakenas and the Dukes. In the second inning, the Dukes responded with two runs of their own to take an early one-run lead. The very next inning the Huskies responded with one-run to tie the ball game.

For the next five innings it was a pitching battle between Holderfield and Pakenas, in which no runs were scored. In extra innings, both teams were forced to go to the bullpen for the first time all game. In the bottom of the ninth, York’s Mike Pastuovic hit a walk-off sacrifice-fly to deep right-field that brought home second-baseman Clayton Letourneau for the game winning run.

The Dukes picked up a win in the first game of the conference series. This gives York their fifth win in a row and some serious momentum going into the final stretch of the regular season.

“This seems like one of the best teams I’ve seen in awhile here at York,” a York teacher said. “I’ve been to multiple games this season and you can put this one at the top of the list for most entertaining.”

img_1667-1.jpg
York takes down their division rivals from Oak Park River Forest in extra innings, 3-2. (Photo By: Dan McDaid)

 

DePaul’s return to the club golf Spring National Championship

IMG_3714 (1).jpg
The official scorecard for the National Championship (Photo By: Dan McDaid)
IMG_3921.jpg
DePaul’s Adam Gracik marks his scorecard during a rough start to his first round of the National Championship (Photo By: Dan McDaid)

 

IMG_3975 (1).jpg
DePaul’s Michael Neff shows his frustration by throwing his ball into the woods after a rough showing at the National Championship (Photo By: Dan McDaid)
IMG_3952.jpg
DePaul’s Benny Mulhearn and Ken jee shake hands on the 18th green after finishing their last round of the tournament (Photo By: Dan McDaid)
IMG_3988.jpg
The car is packed and ready to go to back to Chicago after a rough outing for the DePaul Club Golf team (Photo By: Dan McDaid)

This past weekend we made the trip to St. Louis for the club golf National Championship at Norwood Hills Country Club. This was DePaul’s third appearance at a Spring National Championship. The weekend didn’t go how we expected, finishing in the bottom ten of the tournament. Though, ever since DePaul created the team three years ago, they have reached the Spring National Championship every season. So, the team will look to make their first appearance at a Fall National Championship next Fall.

Not many eyes saw the Cubs comeback win

5021454830_26d10fa4f4_z.jpg
The tarp has been very popular so far this year at Wrigley Field — Flickr — Nick Postorino

On Saturday, the Cubs found themselves in a hole throughout most of the game but by the eighth inning they decided to turn things around. The Cubs were down 10-5 before the fireworks began. They scored nine runs in the eighth inning to come from behind and beat the Atlanta Braves.

This win happens to be one of the most memorable wins for the Cubs throughout the past few years, which includes winning the World Series in 2016. Not many people stuck around to see the comeback though.

“There were maybe about a thousand fans in the ball park when the eighth inning began,” season ticket holder Sam Cleary said. “It was a great experience, because the people that stuck around pretty much got a front row seat to what ended up being a phenomenal game.”

The weather was the reason for the low number of fans. The temperature got down to about 25 degrees with the wind chill, and the rain didn’t help much either.

“It was the least amount of fans I had seen my whole life at Wrigley” Cleary said. “But I am glad I was one of them.”

Cubs Manager Joe Maddon wasn’t a big fan of the weather either.

“We’re going to do what we’re asked or told to do, but I’m just here to tell you those were the worst elements I’ve ever participated in a baseball game, ever,” Maddon said.

The Cubs have had multiple games cancelled so far already this season, even for weather that wasn’t as bad as Saturday’s. This win could do a lot for the Cubs. Maddon always preaches “try not to suck” or “never give up”. In a game that was played in the weather it was, it could have been very easy for the Cubs players to give up and get the game over with because of the bad conditions, but they chose to dig deep and chip away at the deficit.

“It’s not a good feeling when you’re down that much, especially in that weather,” said Kyle Schwarber who entered the game in the sixth inning and drew the go-ahead walk in the eighth. “You want to be out there with those guys and grind it out. But it’s a great sign of resilience.”

For the fans who stuck around to see the miraculous comeback, it likely made the weather a bit more bearable. The ones who left Wrigley might regret that move for a long time.

NFL draft: Two players that can impact the Bears defense

james minkah
Minkah Fitzpatrick (left) and Derwin James (right) are ranked as the top-two safeties in this years NFL draft — The Athletic

The Chicago Bears are a team that is looking for as much help as they can get going into next season. After having a successful free agency on the offensive side of the ball, the Bears should look to add some playmakers on defense in the upcoming draft. According to Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times there are two players that can immediately impact this young Bears defense.

Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick and Florida State’s Derwin James are the top two safeties in this years draft, and they are two players that will not only have every teams attention but specifically the Bears. After missing out on top safety Jamal Adams in last years draft, the Bears could jump on one of these top talents when they pick at No. 8 overall.

Jahns perspective: “Some evaluators think Fitzpatrick and James belong in the same conversation as Adams, though they might lack some of Adams’ intangibles. On the field, they’re more than safeties. Envision players who can match up with new Packers tight end Jimmy Graham, cover Vikings running back Dalvin Cook out of the backfield, chase down Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford off the edge and even handle snaps at cornerback, if necessary.”

I think Jahns shows great analysis in his piece about these two specific players. They are two can’t-miss talents that the Bears should be strongly considering when they are on the clock early in the first round. You can never have enough athletes on the defensive side of the ball. Having depth in the defensive backfield is something more teams are trying to do. With the increase of talent at the wide receiver position across the league, teams can’t have enough playmakers in the secondary. Having the ability to have fresh legs on defense is a big advantage throughout the long season.

 

 

Free agency tracker: Quarterback Chase Daniel brought in to be Trubisky’s backup

On Wednesday, the Bears reached an agreement with veteran backup quarterback Chase Daniel. The deal is for two-years, $10 million, with $7 million guaranteed. Daniel has been in the NFL for eight seasons. His most recent stint was in New Orleans where he backed up Drew Brees. Daniel has experience with Bears head coach Matt Nagy after being with him in Kansas City for three years.

Here is what I think about this move, and what it means for the Bears:

chase daniel.jpg
Chase Daniel will be the right mentor for young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky – Chiefs.com

Grade: B-plus. Daniel is one of the more coveted backups in the NFL even though he has only two starts in eight seasons in the league. Daniel isn’t the most talented quarterback, clearly, since he has only two starts in his long career. The biggest reason for this move is to surround franchise quarterback Mitch Trubisky with someone who is familiar and comfortable in this new particular offense. Daniel played three years in Kansas City under Bears head coach Matt Nagy when he was the quarterbacks coach with the Chiefs. Given, Daniel hasn’t had much of a chance to start throughout his career, he might be capable of producing numbers at this level, but Bears fans are hoping they don’t see him starting here, because that would mean something bad happened to Trubisky. Overall, this is a good move for the Bears because it gives Trubisky a backup he can learn from, but it also doesn’t force the Bears to break the bank like they did last year when they signed Mike Glennon.

Big picture: After spending three years in Kansas City and one year in Philadelphia, Daniel should be very comfortable with the Andy Reid style offense. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy both come from the Andy Reid coaching-tree. Since Daniel has experienced four years of the similar concepts between the two offenses, he should be ready immediately to help Trubisky grow and learn the playbook. This offense is a very high-powered offense that moves quickly. So having a guy like Daniel is a huge asset for this Bears organization. Daniel should also feel comfortable stepping in at starter in case of an injury or problem with Trubisky, because he is so familiar with this offense Nagy will be implementing.

Financial picture: At two-years, with $7 million guaranteed this is a steal for the Bears. Considering they brought in Mike Glennon last year for three-years, $18.5 million guaranteed. It is a perfect backup option behind Trubisky because it gives the team a veteran in the locker-room and someone who is comfortable with the direction the Bears are heading in. Sometimes having a veteran backup like Daniel is essential to a young quarterback’s growth. After year-one we will get to see the impact he has made on Trubisky and it will be interesting to see if the Bears will extend his contract after this one comes to a close.

Podcast: Chicago Bears opening day in free agency

In this weeks podcast, I discuss the multiple different signings the Bears have made in the opening day of NFL free agency. The Bears have signed three offensive weapons for franchise quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. I talk about recent comments new Bears receiver Allen Robinson had to say about new head coach Matt Nagy. I also breakdown what these moves will mean in the bigger picture for this organization. With multiple big-time signings on the leagues opening day, it will give the Bears a head start to look at different positions in order to improve this roster.