The Names on Their Bags: Men’s Golf Completes Research Project for Fallen Soldiers

Lauren Whelan, Sports Editor

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When asked about his favorite piece of advice for his team, head men’s golf coach Mike Binney had a unique yet powerful statement to communicate:

“Their ability to play the game of golf is only part of their responsibility to this team; that taking care of themselves, taking care of their teammates, and being a gentlemen on and off the course is as important, if not more so than their ability to hit a little white ball,” Binney said.

The world of collegiate sports has become extremely intense and all-consuming for many involved, and this piece of advice serves as an encouraging and much-needed reminder for athletes. Binney emphasizes the importance of “whole person development,” and looks to not only improve the athletic abilities of his team, but foster important leadership qualities as well. As a former marine, Binney spent 20 years in service and rose to the rank of major in his role as an attack helicopter pilot. His deployments around the world gave him perspective and leadership that he looks to pass along to the members of his team.

One of the ways in which Binney has done this is through the implementation of a research project, in which each member of the team was responsible for learning about a certain fallen U.S. Service member. After the project was completed, the players carried the name of their respective service member on their team golf bags. Each individual was asked to reflect upon what the story of the soldier meant to them, and what it would mean to carry the name of the fallen soldier with them in competition.

“I did this so that they would gain a certain amount of perspective on their life as a college athlete and golfer. I wanted them to understand that no matter how good or bad a round is going, it pales in comparison to what some folks are doing for this country each and every day,” Binney said.

Coach Binney’s project was certainly successful in broadening the perspective of athletes, as they now carry the names of their soldiers on their bags.

“The biggest take away was to put everything in perspective. I’m not perfect, and whenever something disappointing or unfortunate happens, it’s easy to not let it get to me after I researched my fallen soldier, Maj. Jim Weis,” John Edler ’17 said.

This sentiment perfectly confirms the goals of Binney’s project, and he certainly recognizes the difference in his team after the research was completed.

“Once they realized the magnitude of impact of the lives they were researching, they collectively started to realize that it was not the end of the world if they didn’t play as well on one day, or played extremely well on another. I was very proud of their efforts in doing this project and feel that they are better teammates and individuals because of it,” Binney said.

As they proceed with their competitions, the golf team sets themselves aside in the world of college athletics; the names of these fallen soldiers with them on their bags will serve as a constant reminder to remain in perspective and present themselves as leaders, both on and off the course.

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