By Lex Gouyton
Recent events have stirred an uproar among some of the athletes here at Southwestern College, particularly the golf team. Tim Jasper, head golf coach, has been let go from the athletic coaching program. After Mike McCoy, athletic director, and Jasper reached out to some of the players, it is evident emotions are very high and sporadic right now.
When asked his plans for moving forward, Khord Vining, business administration sophomore, said, “I’m still going to treat things as they were. I’m still going to put in the work and try to better myself as a player.”
The golf teams were told in an email that they needed to meet with McCoy at 12 p.m. Wednesday. At the meeting, the teams were informed about the firing of Jasper, which had taken place at 8:30 a.m. that morning. McCoy told the team Jasper was let go due to low recruitment.
Could it have been handled better? Some students think so.
Reid Green, religion and philosophy senior, said, “To be completely honest, I am mad and upset. The reason I chose to return to Southwestern and be a part of the golf program was because Tim was going to be the coach.”
Green decided to step away from school after her freshman year and told Jasper that if he ever was awarded a head coaching position, she’d gladly come back and play for him. Two and a half years later, Jasper called Green and she came back to Southwestern to play golf for him.
“It feels like an absolute slap in the face that the athletic department waited until we got back from our first tournament of the season to go ahead and let him go,” said Green. “This timing… it doesn’t make sense. Tim helped all of us to become better golfers. Pushing us in academics and on the course. Recruiting is hard. Tim had a lot of talent lined up for next year.” “I’m not proud to be a Moundbuilder today,” said Green.
She isn’t the only one upset. James Strickland, business administration freshman, said, “I am not happy about this situation because the main reason that I’m here was for Jasper to be my coach. I feel like my future here is in jeopardy. I just think he was fired at the absolute worst time. The girls just finished a tournament the day before and the guys have a tournament in two weeks.”
Abby Bertholf, biochemistry senior, had a similar reaction to Vining’s. She said, “I’m not going to let this distract me from moving forward. I play golf for my love for the game. I am happy to continue to golf for Southwestern College. I have invested great time into this golf program. I am ready to see what’s in store for the Southwestern College golf teams.”
There are a lot of emotions that go along with the firing of a head coach, but staying focused and upright in your love for the sport has proven to be most important, according to Vining and Bertholf.
Peyton Timmerman, graduate student, was baffled the school let Jasper go at such an inopportune time.
Timmerman said, “I’m sad and upset. I chose to be a part of this team because of the people that were involved. I knew that I wanted to play for Tim and with the other girls, and that we would have a competitive team with really good team chemistry.”
“I’ve been on the team for about a week, and in that time he’s already made improvements on my swing. I was excited about all the other parts of the game he was going to help me with,” said Timmerman. “As long as the other girls are playing, I will too. I think they should have made this decision before school started or at semester. Taking away a coach in the middle of a season is probably the worst possible time.”
Darren Reed, biochemistry senior, sees this as a big downfall to the program. Reed said, “There is no better fit than coach Tim Jasper. He has chosen to live in Winfield countless years after he graduated from SC. He knows everyone in the community and is the president of Winfield Country Club. We have our big fundraising tournament every fall during homecoming where we raise most of our money and I have already heard from roughly 10 alumni that they will not be bringing a team to that tournament.”
This puts a strain on the fundraising aspect of Builder Golf and their next steps as a team.
When asked about plans moving forward, the golfers had mixed feelings about whether or not they will continue with the program.
Chase Carr, graduate student, said, “I am in between thoughts about moving forward. I am completing my Master’s Degree right now so it is not as important for me to be involved on the golf team. I am not sure if I am going to be a part of the program as a player moving forward.”
Meagan Brady, business administration senior, said, “I do not intend on representing Southwestern College in any further athletic events.”
Jefferson Cook, business administration sophomore, said, “I feel like I just lost a good friend. My plans are to move on and keep playing and focus towards the future.”
“In high school I had four different coaches, so you could say I’m used to it, but this is by far the toughest transition I’ve had as far as losing a coach,” said Cook.
Jasper seemed to have a very dramatic effect on these athletes’ lives. Jasper declined to comment officially on the matter, though he posted the following on his personal Facebook page this evening:
“It’s been a difficult couple of days but I can’t thank everyone enough for all the kind words of support and love! For those that do not know yesterday was my last day as the Head Golf Coach at Southwestern College. I want to thank all the players for trusting me to be their coach. I want to thank all the parents who believed in what we were doing at SC and to trusted me to coach their child and help them succeed on the course and in the classroom. To all my former teammates, alumni, former parents, community members and everyone else that supported the program while I was a player and coach THANK YOU! As I begin to look at what the next chapter of my life brings I will always be grateful for my time at Southwestern as it has given me lifelong friends.”
The Collegian reached out to both McCoy and Brad Andrews, president, for comment, but neither responded.
The main message Jasper’s athletes had was that he was not just a coach – he was a friend and a mentor. Questions have been raised, but only some have been answered.