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Golf Tournament Promotes Fun and STUdents

By Walter Villa, Special to STU

Jacksonville has “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” with the annual Florida-Georgia college football game.

Louisville has “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” with the annual Kentucky Derby horse race.

And Augusta, Georgia, of course, has “A Tradition Unlike Any Other” with the annual Masters golf tournament.

St. Thomas University has its own signature sports event, and it is billed as: “South Florida’s Most Fun Golf Tournament.”

This year’s event was held on Monday, April 23, at The Club of Weston Hills.

Officially, it is the 17th Annual “Fore The Love of Education STU Golf Tournament.”

STU President David A. Armstrong, J.D., hosted the event, and he wanted to make sure that his guests kept two words in mind.

One word was “fun” – and that is a given as the event featured six Bacardi-sponsored bars on the course and several “party holes.” The tournament was also blessed by the presence of STU’s marching band, its choir, its spirit squad and Bobcats student-athletes who carried the golfers’ bags from the parking lot and greeted golfers at various holes throughout the two available 18-hole courses.

Besides fun, the second word President Armstrong emphasized was “STUdents,” and he explained why in a brief speech just prior to the start of the golfing festivities.

“You’re going to meet all kinds of our students today,” President Armstrong said. “Make sure you engage with them. That’s why we’re here. Make sure you support them.

“Have fun, play great golf – have a great time. But remember we’re here because of these students. They are phenomenal young people. They are going to be ethical leaders in the global community.”

One of those phenomenal students that President Armstrong spoke of is Juliette Valle, who is the reigning Miss Florida.

Valle also took the microphone prior to Monday’s golfing event.

“I have 68 days left in my reign, and then I will begin law school at St. Thomas University,” Valle said. “I’m incredibly honored and excited to do so, and I want to thank President Armstrong for already making me feel like family.

“I also want to thank Dean (Tarlika Nunez-Navarro), who has already changed the College of Law for the better.”

Speaking of STU’s law school, Peter Dourvetakis – who works at The Club at Weston Hills’ pro shop – is also a Bobcat. He is set to graduate from STU College of Law next month, and, once he passes the bar, he already has a job lined up as a litigator in Fort Lauderdale.

Dourvetakis said he is proud of his school, and he pointed out that Monday’s event was typical of STU’s spirit.

“You never see this many people for the regular tournaments here,” Dourvetakis said. “But, with (Monday’s event), you see so many volunteers. It speaks to the community at STU.”

The Club of Weston Hills is President Armstrong’s home course, and Dourvetakis said he remembers when the STU President walked into the pro shop for the first time a few years ago.

“I introduced him to everybody,” Dourvetakis said. “President Armstrong is an all-around great human being and a pretty good golfer, too.”

Later, when Dourvetakis told President Armstrong he was interested in going to law school somewhere, the STU President stepped up in a big way.

“He was the only president who would sit down with me for a meeting,” Dourvetakis said. “He got me to feel comfortable about going to school there. He offered to reach out to any contacts if I needed a job at the end of my three years there.

“President Armstrong has taken care of me in my three years at STU.”

Dourvetakis’ story is telling of so many things – President Armstrong’s kindness, STU’s accessibility and, also, of the power of golf.

Scott Koskoski, STU’s Vice President of Philanthropy, is a sincere believer in the virtues of this great game with roots stretching all the way back to Scotland in 1457.

“Golf is a unifying game for all ages,” Koskoski said. “In what other sport can an 80-year-old defeat a 20-year-old?

“Beyond that, golf lends itself to friendship, camaraderie, and networking.

“It’s also a gentleman’s sport, which is a perfect fit for STU and our core value of ethical leadership.

“Golfers adhere to an honor code. In what other sport does a player call a penalty against his or her shot? And that honor code is something we ask of our students.”

Koskoski said there were about 240 golfers who took part in Monday’s tournament, with additional guests joining in for the post-event dinner.

“This tournament is a great way to bring together our stakeholders, alumni, and anyone in South Florida who cares about our mission,” Koskoski said.

Jacinto Gonzalez and Danny Rivera fall into that category of golfers at Monday’s event who believe in STU’s mission.

“It’s a great university,” Gonzalez said.

Rivera, who invited Gonzalez to play on Monday, is a long-time supporter of STU.

“The camaraderie, the friendship, the family atmosphere,” Rivera said when asked why he supports the event, “and it’s all for a good cause.”

Dale Hendricks, who played the tournament for the third time on Monday, called it a “first-class” event.

“The goodie bags, the venue, the reception,” Hendricks said. “It’s well done.”

Indeed, everyone had a great time, and the event was a huge success.

How do we know this?

“As everyone was leaving,” Koskoski said, “they all wanted to know the date for next year’s event.”



Walter Villa

Author Walter Villa

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