Thursday, December 6, 2007

SMU coach dies suddenly
One athlete's personal story

By Eric Lear
Co-Sports Editor

On Friday, Nov. 30, long-time Saint Mary’s University coach Tom Farren died suddenly from a heart attack suffered while working in the ice rink.

I have been lucky enough to get to know Coach Farren on a person level during my time at SMU. My father is an outstanding golfer, and he passed his passion for the game on to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick up that passion until my sophomore year at SMU.

I signed up for the golf class taught by Coach Farren that fall. I showed up early and stayed late hitting bucket after bucket of balls listening to every tip he gave. Coach Farren must have seen past my inabilities and noticed my desire to play the game and to improve because after the class he offered me a spot on the roster for the spring season.

I practiced every day with the team that spring and I got to play a lot with Coach Farren. I never expected to play in any tournaments, but the first tournament of my junior year I was able to play. I even managed to birdie my first hole as a golfer. Unfortunately, the 17 holes after that were less than memorable, but I could not have been more excited to be a part of the team.

I was never able to turn in a scorecard to Coach Farren that I was happy about, but in all honesty, I don’t think he cared what the number was on my card. He cared that I worked as hard as I could and loved every minute of it. It’s not the tournaments I played in that I will remember anyway. I will never forget how hard he worked with me, even though we both knew I wouldn’t be making a huge impact on the team. He treated each of us as if we were the top golfer in the MIAC. I’ll never forget the times when the course was empty and we would squeeze in a few more holes. There were times Coach Farren and I would play until the sunset; we only stopped then because we couldn’t find our golf balls in the dark.

It wasn’t just about golf with Coach Farren. Many of us frequently stopped by his office to chat about anything and everything; sometimes I would lose track of time and be late for class. I was lucky enough to have a brief chat with Coach Farren just a few hours before his shocking collapse. Van rides to tournaments were filled with great stories about golf and about life that my teammates and I loved to hear. This has been the toughest life story he has given us.

Over the many holes of golf I played with Coach Farren, he often told me a great quote: “There are many that play the game of golf better than I do, but very few that enjoy playing it more than I do.” Not only did he say that because it fit him, he also knew that it fit me perfectly. I may not have been the best golfer on the team, but I was thrilled to be part of that team.

I can honestly say that being a part of Coach Farren’s golf team has been the highlight of my college athletic career. I can only hope that Coach Farren was aware of how grateful I am that he gave me such an opportunity.

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