By: Nathan Easington, Howard University News Service
Last Thursday, Howard University Athletic Director, Kery Davis, announced the appointment of Samuel G. Puryear, Jr. as the new head golf coach of both the men’s and women’s programs. This came after talks between Puryear and the university started back in November to bring him on as the coach for the golf program’s inaugural D-1 season.
Puryear, who has amassed an extensive resume as a coach, player and advocate of the sport was excited about the new opportunity, despite some of the changes that were created due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
“No one anticipated the virus coming around, but at the same time, I think that within itself, it could also be a blessing for a lot of places because now I think intrinsically, you begin to look at how you want to build,” said Puryear.
With the added time on coaches’ and players’ hands because of event cancellations due to the pandemic, Puryear has found the time and contact he has had with players and potential recruits has increased.
“I love trying to make a positive out of a negative, but the way I’m looking at this is really making a coach, spend more time on the telephone, and on email, and text messages for players more so than they normally would have been able to do,” Puryear explained.
Despite having to deal with the fluctuating situation created by the virus and some of the hardships that come with building a program from scratch, Puryear plans to bring all of the knowledge, lessons and ideals from his previous coaching positions to the Bison in the fall of 2020.
Puryear began his own collegiate golf career at Tennessee State, graduating with honors in 1992. His first collegiate coaching job came in 2006 when he was brought to Stanford University as the first full time assistant coach. While at Stanford, the team won the 2007 NCAA Division-1 National Championship, in addition to winning the PAC-12 conference twice. Puryear was then brought on as the head coach at Michigan State University in 2008, where he won the Big-10 conference that same year. During his four years at Michigan State, his students averaged a 3.0 or higher GPA in the classroom.
Puryear, who has also been outspoken for years about getting the game of golf into more minority communities, believes that Howard will be one of the best ways to spur other HBCUs and high schools to invest in their own golf program.
“Typically, at most universities, even mid sized universities, your golf student athlete base and your golf donor base are very solid… So, I’m hoping that for a lot of HBCU presidents, they say, ‘Hey, you know what, we need to get a solid golf program. Because getting that program means that we’re going to have some stellar student athletes, and then those athletes will go out and do some special things in the world. And those things in the world will be able to allow and bring resources to the table,’” Puryear said.
While many of the changes that all athletes are dealing with have completely upended their sports worlds, Puryear has been solely focused on what he, his staff and students can control.
“I had a young guy say to me, he said, ‘Man, I finished third and state last year, I honestly thought I had a chance to win it this year.’
“Now you have a chance to go to college and you just start your career off, you just use this time to get better. Once again, I’m always big on let’s focus on what we can control, focus on what we focusing on and let’s try to make the next day better than today.”