When Jimbo Fisher was hired as head coach of the Texas A&M football team in December 2017, it affected a variety of people — players, Aggie fans and obviously Fisher, just to name a few.
College Station’s senior golfer Sam Schmidt could also be added to that list.
Schmidt’s father, Jerry, was hired by Fisher as A&M’s director of athletic performance after spending 18 years at Oklahoma.
Moving from Norman, Oklahoma, to College Station as a junior in high school is not easy, Schmidt said, but being on the Cougars’ golf team made the transition easier. His coach says Schmidt handled the change perfectly.
“He did a great job of fitting in,” College Station head coach Brian Edwards said. “He’s just such a laid-back, great kid. The other golfers just fell in love with him. He fit right in and ended up being a vital part of our district championship team and helped us qualify to go to state. We finished ninth in the state last year with only one senior, and he was actually my only junior.”
Now as the Cougars’ lone senior, Schmidt has a scoring average of 79 in College Station’s past four tournaments. College Station placed 17th in the Aggie Cup Invitational on Jan. 20-21 then won the Barbers Hill Invitational on Feb. 7-8. The Cougars also placed sixth and seventh in the Aggieland Match Play and state preview, respectively, before the UIL suspended all extracurricular activities due to the coronavirus.
“I didn’t play as well as I wanted to this season yet, but I feel like I made a lot of gains just on my swing,” Schmidt said. “My swing has come a long way just in a year with the work I put in, and that makes me excited. It sucks that I didn’t get to finish it out with my team, but hopefully we can.”
With 16 underclassman on the varsity and JV teams, Edwards said Schmidt has made a big impact on the younger golfers through his worth ethic.
“We’re still a relatively young team, so he does a great job with leadership and he practices really hard,” Edwards said. “Hopefully the younger kids see that and figure out that that’s the way you can get good at this game. It’s just such a hard game to master. You think you have it one day and you play really well, then the very next day you can play really bad. It’s such a humbling game. He’s so even keel. Obviously he gets upset with himself, but he doesn’t show it and that’s good.”
While Schmidt is now a leader for the Cougars, he didn’t find golf until first watching The Masters at 12 years-old.
“I played all sports when I was growing up, but when I was 12, The Masters was on and I had never really watched golf that much before,” Schmidt said. “I started watching it because my dad was watching, and I fell in love with it. I thought it was super cool, so I grabbed his clubs and we had a bunch of land in Oklahoma so I started hitting balls in the yard. That’s what got me started.”
Schmidt says some of the golfers on his team have been playing longer than he has, which is why he doesn’t see himself as a leader but more as a piece to a bigger puzzle.
Schmidt’s season, like all spring high school sports across the state, is on hold until at least May 4 due to concerns over COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The Cougars’ schedule originally included the District 19-5A tournament on Monday and the Class 5A Region III tournament on April 20 with both in Montgomery. The state championship is set for May 11 in Georgetown.
Edwards said if the UIL allows schools to finish the season, his team is willing and ready even if it means a short transition from practice to competition. He also hopes it happens for his lone senior.
“People grow to [Schmidt] kind of quickly because he’s so likable and a polite young man and he comes by it honestly,” Edwards said. “He comes by it from his parents, who are both tremendous people, and we’re so lucky to have him. I sure hope that his senior season doesn’t get canceled.”
Schmidt and the other six varsity players are continuing to practice both at home and at local golf courses. Edwards said in a sport like golf, it’s crucial to continue to practice the craft.
“Obviously, this is a sport that you actually can practice in your house,” Edwards said. “You can do some putting drills and things like that, do some chipping in your backyard. For the most part golf courses have been open. You check in and once you’re out on the course you have distanced yourself from people. They’ve been able to get out and play and practice on their own.”
When Schmidt isn’t on his favorite golf course in town — Traditions Club — he’s fishing.
“We all go out and play everyday and practice,” Schmidt said. “I hate to say it, but it was fun to play with the guys all day long. We were all hitting super good, too. I’ve been practicing a lot. Usually I get up in the morning and go practice at Pebble Creek or Traditions and then I’ll go fish after, so that’s what my days consist of right now.”
Schmidt plans to continue playing golf at Southern Nazarene in Bethany, Oklahoma, and wants to major in sports management with a minor in business. He hopes to intern at a golf course and become a pro golfer.
“I always wanted to go back to Oklahoma,” Schmidt said. “That was my plan when I moved to College Station, because I loved it there and had good buddies there. But what really drew me [to Southern Nazarene] is my sister’s boyfriend had a friend named Will Coffman who plays golf there and I hung out with him and he told me how much he liked it and that got me interested in it.”