After being eliminated by the university in 2016, the Fighting Hawks men’s golf team plays on after the generosity of the community. The teams captain, Jeremy Kirk stated that though the team continues to play, it faces some challenges after being eliminated and later reinstated.
“For our team specifically, the initial discontinuation threw us into an unnecessary rebuild process”, said Kirk, “Apart from losing some very valuable seniors my freshman year, we also lost two or three promising recruits. And I know since, it has been hard to recruit well because of the uncertainty surrounding the program”.
Kirk, a junior chemistry student from Thunder Bay, Ontario, grew up playing many different sports but ultimately decided golf was the sport for him.
“I enjoyed all the sports I played, but golf was something I had been playing and loved since I was four or five-years old,” Kirk said.
The decision to choose golf over other sports wasn’t easy at first for Kirk
“Some injuries early in high school made me reevaluate all the sports I was playing,” he said. “I felt that I had the largest ceiling for development in golf and pursuing it would allow me to reach the highest level of college athletics.”
After years of hard work and dedicated practice, Kirk reached college golf and was recruited by UND’s program. As a freshman on the team, Kirk experienced the university’s decision to discontinue the school’s team, leaving the players without options.
“Of course, that was a very emotional time for all of us but for me, especially being a freshman, it left my future in disarray”, said Kirk.
UND athletics decided to cut both the golf and baseball programs in the spring of 2016 in an attempt to cut close to $13 million from the school’s budget. The decision came under heavy scrutiny and launched crowdfunding efforts to try and reinstate the teams.
Jeremy Kirk explains the time after the university’s decision saying, “after that initial discontinuation, we received extraordinary support from alumni of the program, community members, local businesses and many good-willed people. With their support, we were able to self-fundraise enough funds in a two-month period to support our program for two more years.”
The two years will expire after this season and if the team is not reinstated, it will fall to its previous fate.
“We are currently working on becoming fully reinstated for next year and beyond. This process is much more difficult,” Kirk said.
For the team, life after being cut and reinstated has been hard.
The team also experienced a coaching change to add to the chaos. Though the team has dealt with plenty of adversity over the past few seasons, they remain optimistic that the future of the program.
“Recent times have shown a positive direction for the team as a whole,” Kirk said. “Whatever the future may hold for the golf program, I know all of us on the team have loved representing UND and would love to continue doing so.”
As for Jeremy Kirk, he hopes to attend law school in Canada after he graduates from UND.
John Gregg is a Sports writer for the Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]