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Golfers take fifth straight service trip, earn national academic honors

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Even though it was break time, the Bethel College golf team shared two special events this summer.

One was the annual service trip – the fifth in a row – to Kids Across America, June 12-15. KAA is a Christian sports camp for inner-city youth on Table Rock Lake in southwestern Missouri.

Coach Gregg Dick and three players went on this year’s service trip. It was the second time for 2011 graduate Justin Regehr and junior Abram Rodenberg, both from Halstead, and the fourth for Cameron Voth, senior from Goessel.

KAA golf instruction takes place at the Payne Stewart Memorial Golf Complex, funded through gifts of Payne Stewart’s family and other professional golfers to honor the 1991 and 1999 U.S. Open champion and Missouri native, who died in a plane crash in 1999.

The character qualities that KAA seeks to instill in its campers fit well with the game of golf, Dick said. Each youth has a chance to participate in golf, either as a “specialty” (an area of concentration during the week, with a couple hours each morning) or as a brief introduction during an afternoon or evening.

“Camp has been a great experience all four years I have had the privilege to go,” said Voth. “Working with the kids is great because a lot of them have never touched a golf club and if they have, it was at camp. Teaching them how to hit and then seeing their reactions when they start to get the hang of it is the best part – especially when you think about the possibility of them picking up golf because of their experience at camp.

“The people we work with that run the camp are all awesome people,” he continued, “and every year I have learned from their example.”

“I really enjoy talking to the kids and hearing their stories, as they are very interesting and most kids like telling someone about their life,” said Regehr. “I don’t feel like I can make much of a difference in their golf games, but I do feel that when we go down there, if we can make a difference – however small it is – in at least one kid’s life, then the trip was a success. I think this year the trip was a great success.”

The other happening of note was national recognition for academic achievement – the distinction of “President’s Special Recognition” from the Golf Coaches Association of America, announced Aug. 3.

The GCAA awards academic honors in six divisions, covering both four-year and two-year colleges, to teams that exhibit a collective grade point average of 3.5 or better.

Members of Bethel’s 2010-11 golf team were (in addition to Regehr, Rodenberg and Voth) Zach Frey, Goessel, Jesse Mueller, Halstead, and Alan Skinner, Clay Center, who all graduated in May; juniors Jordan Esau, Hutchinson, Eric Regier, Haysville, John Reimer, Hesston, and Trey Ronnebaum, Wichita; sophomore Austin Fearing, Castle Rock, Colo.; and freshman Dillon Scheer, Cheney.

“This was a very special team and I am extremely proud of them,” Dick said. “They were a team of character, and worked hard on the golf course as well as in the classroom. At Bethel, we [emphasize] the importance of working hard in the classroom and it’s nice to see these guys getting rewarded for that.”

Bethel College competes in the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association and was the only NAIA team from Kansas to make the GCAA academic honors list, and one of only two in the region, along with Oklahoma Christian College, Oklahoma City.

To be eligible for GCAA All-Academic Team honors, a college or university must submit the grade points earned and hours attempted for each player on its official squad list for the academic year.

The GCAA, based in Norman, Okla., was established in 1958. The nonprofit organization is the professional association of men’s collegiate golf coaches. Through its established events and programs, the GCAA maintains a goal of increasing awareness and the status of men’s golf. There are more than 750 members in the GCAA representing all three NCAA divisions as well as NAIA and NJCAA.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2011-12 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is in the first tier in its category in the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of “America’s Top Colleges” for 2011. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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