Ben Hart, an Olivet College senior, was awarded the MIAA Men’s Golf Sportsmanship Award this fall season.
“The MIAA Sportsmanship award is awarded annually to one senior golfer who has exhibited good sportsmanship during his career. Only one golfer among all MIAA golfers receives the honor,” Geoff Henson, Sports Information Director at Olivet College, said.
In this case, that one golfer was none other than Hart.
Hart views golf as a way of life. He couldn’t imagine his life without it. “It’s kind of a roller coaster. You never know what’s going to happen next. It teaches me to push on regardless of what bad breaks may come,” Hart said.
Adopted from Guatemala, Hart moved to Rockford, with his family, at six months old. While living in Michigan, he attended Lowell High School and started golfing at a young age with his uncle, Rich Kitchen. “My uncle owns a golf course so I’ve golfed my whole life. I didn’t start competitive golfing until high school,” Hart said.
In high school, Hart was all-conference his junior and senior year. In addition, he received the Team MVP and sportsmanship award his senior year.
Coming to college, golf became more competitive. In order to keep up with the new demands Hart said he pushed himself in practices to succeed. “You’re as good as you practice. When I’m practicing, I have a goal and will do anything to get there,” Hart said. “You’re self-reliant; you control what happens next. You get what you put in.”
Golfing all of his four years at Olivet, he was appointed by then-coach Kevin Allard to become the team captain of golf. He soon began to expand his successes on the playing field. According to the MIAA, Hart averaged a team-low of 79.8 strokes over the jamborees this fall. His career best for 18-holes was a 72, played on Sept. 15.
“Ben is very serious about golf. He respects the game and competition and always tries to do his best,” Bill Maas, current golf coach said. “Ben’s represented our golf program at a very high level during the time he’s been here.”
According to Maas, these successes and Hart’s radiant personality, all played a major part in receiving his MIAA sportsmanship award.
“Coaches and other team players vote for a senior from eight MIAA teams and I got picked,” Hart said with a smile. “It means that I am liked, I don’t brush people the wrong way when golfing. I am humble.”
Hart’s major influence throughout his golfing career has been his Uncle Rich. “He taught me differently. He focused on the little things that really matter and that people don’t usually learn until later in their career,” Hart said. “He’s a great role model.”
Majoring in criminal justice, Hart has also been the president of Phi Alpha Pi fraternity since spring of 2015.
Senior Joe Sabatella and fellow Phi Alph Pi fraternity brother, thinks highly of Hart. “Ben is super quiet. He talks with strong words and has a great vocabulary. Everyone respects him and what he has to say. He also leads by example. If there’s something someone wouldn’t want to do, he’ll pick it up and do it,” Sabatella said. “Ben was the clear choice. He showed all the examples of a good leader and we all recognized that.”
Planning on graduating in May of 2016, Hart said he’s not quite sure what he wants to do with his degree yet. “Later down the road, maybe I’ll go into the police academy. But for now, I’m figuring things out.”