Foot surgery may have caused junior golfer Jake Erickson to sit out of golf for 10 weeks, but the time off hasn’t seemed to affect his ability to win as a member of the SIU men’s golf team.
“At the beginning, I was a little rusty, but then I started playing really well. It was pretty exciting,” Erickson said.
Erickson broke his right foot while playing basketball at the Recreation Center during winter break. He was released by his doctor Feb. 14 to play and returned to the team with an elevated performance on the golf course. He was recognized March 20 as the second Saluki in SIU history, behind alumnus Brian Norman, to win two consecutive golf tournaments in the same year and received Missouri Valley Conference Golfer of the Week honors.
Erickson said all the recognition he has received couldn’t have been possible without the Saluki Athletics training staff, especially Assistant Athletic Trainer Kristin Trotter and his teammates overall support.
“I wanted to thank the whole training staff for rehabbing me and getting me back in time,” Erickson said. “I wouldn’t be able to play if it wasn’t for them. I probably would’ve missed the first two tournaments.”
Even when Erickson doubted his ability to play during the 2012 season, his teammates said they relied on Erickson’s positive attitude and leadership skills as motivation.
Junior golfer Jeffrey Miller said Erickson deserves every honor he has received because of his strong display of team leadership and overall commitment.
“He works just as hard as any of the other guys on the golf team, if not harder,” Miller said. “He works as a leader too. He organizes the team, sends out all of the text messages and is our team captain.”
Miller said Erickson is a calm and collective player, even when he knows he didn’t perform to the best of his ability. Miller said every player encourages one another to perform at their highest level during competition, but Erickson is the one who can be counted on to support the team on all levels.
“We are all very talented on our team, but Jake’s got the mental part of the game figured out a little bit better than everybody else right now,” Miller said. “As long as (Erickson) continues to do that and everybody else strives to get to his, then we should be even better as a team.”
Head coach Leroy Newton, said Erickson has improved his game in both practice and during matches. He said Erickson has the determination to work harder each day, which Newton said can be seen when Erickson competes.
“Jake is very outgoing, as well as all of the other kids on the team,” Newton said. “The kids try different things and suggest different things to each other, and Jake is one to do just that.”
Newton said because Erickson acknowledges his own strength, he believes Erickson will continue to combat his weaknesses and become a better player.