Penn College golfer grew as a person, laments what could have been

Published 05.03.2020

Wildcat Weekly

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Shock. Dismay. Anger. Pennsylvania College of Technology spring sports athletes experienced myriad emotions March 12 when it was announced that their seasons had been canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is the last in a series on the reactions of student-athletes whose careers or seasons were cut short.)

Jordan Wise is a self-described “super-competitive” person. And although he played soccer, basketball and golf in high school, golf is his passion and he was primed for a breakout final season with his Penn College teammates.

After graduating from Midd-West High School in Middleburg, Wise first attended Lock Haven University where he wanted to play on the golf team. As fate would have it, however, Lock Haven was just discontinuing its men’s team, so after one semester, he took eight months off from schooling before deciding to seek a college where he could earn a degree in a health-related field.

“I had some buddies that were going to Penn College and they told me to look into it. And I wanted to play on a golf team while I was in school. I went to the campus and visited and I liked it. And I liked that it wasn’t too far away from home (in McClure),” Wise said of his decision bringing him to Williamsport.

He will graduate with a degree in health information technology and looks to land a job in medical and diagnosis coding.

“There is so much you can do with that major, but for me, specifically, I like the coding aspect,” Wise said.

“When I started playing golf (as a high school junior), I had a good swing and I was an OK player. When I first started playing at Penn College I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know who was going to be on the team or if I was going to make the team,” Wise said.

Admitting that he struggled early in his career at Penn College and didn’t play to his capabilities, his game began to come around in the fall of 2017 when he shot a 79 in one match and led the Wildcats to their first invitational win that season.

“(Last summer), I really dropped my handicap, I went down to a 2 handicap, so coming into the fall season I was really confident. Unfortunately, I hit my stride where I was struggling a little bit again. I had a little kink in my swing and I just wasn’t scoring,” Wise said.

Over the winter, however, he worked hard on his game indoors, and outside when he could.

“Originally when the coronavirus was going around, I never thought that it was going to come to the United States and affect us so quickly like it did,” Wise said. “I was actually going out and playing with my buddies two times a week, and for the most part, I shot in the 70s every single time. I was ecstatic. … I was really looking forward to the spring season.

“We had an awesome (spring) schedule and I was beyond pumped for it because not only was it my last chance to prove to myself and some other people that I could go out there and play, but I think we had a really good team and everybody was looking solid and I truly believe that we had a really, really good chance of winning our conference (North Eastern Athletic Conference) and that would have sent us to the NCAAs.”

At home during spring break in March, Wise listened as news started filtering in about various national sporting events being postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“My dad and I were talking and he said, ‘What if they cancel your golf season?’ I said, ‘I really hope they don’t.’ You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do for health reasons, but it would have been crushing to hear that,” he said.

Later that day, reality hit home when he received an email from coach Matt Haile making his nightmare a reality.

“I was shook. I really was. It dropped my heart down. I really didn’t know how to look at it because I was shocked. I was so ready to go. It was my last opportunity and for that to be taken away like that – it hurt. As a competitor, I want to go out and compete. That’s my favorite thing on the planet to do – compete.”

Although seniors have been given an extra year of eligibility to participate in athletics, Wise said it probably won’t happen for most.

“I don’t know what goes on at the executive level of the NCAA, but I wish there was a way to have a free season back. I can’t afford to come back to school just to play golf. Financially, it’s not worth it. … I can’t afford it,” he said, adding that if he was told he was going get another season that was paid for and he didn’t have to take classes, “that would be incredible.”

Wise credits his Penn College coach for helping him understand the “head game” of golf, and grow as a person.

“Whenever I played basketball, or baseball or soccer when I was younger, if I got mad or angry I could just turn that into a whole different game and play better. But golf is so different. … It’s a different anger in golf. I learned how to turn that anger in golf into just one hole instead of dragging it on for five or six holes. I learned how to flip a switch mentally and get more focused – forget about it, move on. I found a way to get upset in the moment and then push that aside because it’s over with,” he said.

And the results showed as Wise said his numbers went from an 8-handicapper to a 2 handicap that is trending on a 1. He hopes to be a scratch golfer by the end of this summer.

“It was a great experience. I love Penn College. … You honestly don’t know what can happen. Life is so unpredictable,” Wise said. “At all times, you have to cherish every single moment of your life.

“I was the kid that had some natural ability and I never worked for anything and it definitely showed. … The earlier you find out that you have to take responsibility and instill a work ethic in yourself – that is work as hard as you possibly can for whatever goal it is that you want to pursue – I think that will work out good for you.”

Final overall: 5-5
NEAC: 0-0
Remainder of season canceled, coronavirus

Final overall: 5-4
NEAC: 0-0
Spring Break Tournament at Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Remainder of season canceled, coronavirus

Remainder of season canceled, coronavirus

Women’s Tennis
Final overall: 1-5 (1-4 fall season)
NEAC: 0-0
Remainder of season canceled, coronavirus

Men’s Tennis
Final overall: 1-5 (1-4 fall season)
NEAC: 0-0
Remainder of season canceled, coronavirus

Spring season canceled, coronavirus

For more about NEAC, visit the conference website.

For more information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

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