TEMPE, Ariz. — The spring semester can be particularly busy for student-athletes who are in-season and working toward graduation.
Arizona State University men's golf coach, Matt Thurmond, can relate because he's part of the 2022 graduation class.
As ASU men's golf prepares to host and compete in the NCAA Championships this week at Grayhawk Golf Course in Scottsdale, Thurmond remembers what it was like to be a student during this time last year while balancing his duties as a head coach, a husband and a father of three daughters.
"Last year during this tournament I was in a strategy class. I had basically the biggest project of the whole semester going during this week with a group from all over the world," Thurmond recalls. "How stressed I was and how many hours I was spending doing that as soon as I got off the course. I'm happy to be done with it."
With a lot of time on his hands at the start of the pandemic Thurmond and his wife, Kathryn, both decided to go back to school. Earlier this month Thurmond graduated from ASU with his master's in Applied Leadership and Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
"The international element is really a big deal and you have to have at least two experiential-based classes and so I went on two foreign trips. I went to Nairobi, Kenya, for a global field seminar and a global consulting lab in León, Mexico, with a team consulting there," Thurmond said.
"Those are the things I was most excited about in signing up for the program, those opportunities to get real-world experience. Awesome trips. Made really special friends and learned too much," he said.
Thurmond's trip to Nairobi forced him to miss one of ASU's tournaments during the season but graduate student and Hamilton High School product, Mason Andersen, said the team was fully supportive of their coach's desire to further his education.
"That's just 'Thurms' for you. The guy is just a world-class leader and for him to go do something like that while coaching 10 of us dingleberries is pretty special," Andersen said. "It's a lot to handle and if anybody can handle it, it's him."
While learning about global leadership, management and business education, he also learned how to better understand the daily grind his student-athletes have to go through to succeed.
"That might be the best thing I got out of it. I learned the details of what they do. I had to re-learn so many things. I'm not a super young guy and school has changed a little bit since I was in school before," Thurmond said. "I now know what they do every day, I can speak their language."
"I think when I'm meeting with recruits, too, when I can say 'hey, I know what it's like to be an ASU student and how it all works' and they can ask me questions when things come up and I know how it works. It's really cool," he added.
Thurmond became the head golf coach in July 2016. Since then he was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year in 2019 and the Sun Devils have won 14 team titles.
Thurmond graduated from BYU where he was a four-year letter winner with the Cougar golf program from 1993 to 1999.
The NCAA Men's Golf Championships run from May 27 to June 1 with the Sun Devils teeing off at 11:52 a.m. on Friday and 6:32 a.m. on Saturday.
The six-day tournament begins with four rounds of individual stroke play followed by two days of team match play. The men's field will include the top 30 teams and five individuals.
No ticket is required for spectators as the championship is free and open to everyone.
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