When Devin Bibeau takes the first tee at Bethpage Country Club on Sept. 16, he will take it as the lone senior on Temple’s roster — a roster that has gone through a lot since Bibeau was recruited.
In the past year Temple has seen two of its top golfers leave the program for various reasons, making Bibeau the leader of the young squad.
Former golfer Connor McNicholas left the team in 2011 following his arrest relating to a crash that left two friends dead in Horsham, Pa. McNicholas was convicted of two counts of vehicular homicide in June. Steve Burak, another one of the Owls’ experienced players, transferred after the Fall 2011 season.
Bibeau is now relied on more heavily as both a leader and a golfer for a team that is looking to make a name for itself in collegiate golf as it prepares to enter the Big East Conference in the 2013 season.
“I’ve been the oldest on the team the past two years and had to keep the guys from getting disappointed,” Bibeau said. “I had to convince everyone to work through the problems we had been through and that the problems would eventually be OK.”
Bibeau’s quest to become captain was also an uphill battle. He redshirted his freshman year because coach Brian Quinn didn’t think he was ready for the collegiate game. He was given an option to stay on the team’s roster and not play in the starting five, essentially wasting a year of eligibility, or redshirt and work academically and athletically to get his game to the level where Quinn wanted.
Bibeau’s improvements as a player so far at Temple are something he said he never could have foreseen.
“There’s really no comparison. [Quinn] has helped my game get to a level I never believed I could reach,” Bibeau said. “Mentally I’m so much better than where I was in high school. [Quinn] changed me for the better.”
Quinn also sees the improvements Bibeau has made throughout his career — notably his improvements as a golfer, a student and a leader.
“When [Bibeau] came into school he wasn’t ready to play college golf yet,” Quinn said. “He used his redshirt year to work on his school work and his golf game. He changed his entire swing around. It’s unbelievable how much better he’s gotten since he’s been here.”
“During the summer he sometimes drives down from Boston to have me watch him hit golf balls, then he drives right back home,” Quinn added. “He’s our leader on and off the course, everyone looks up to him as the captain.”
His teammates also realize the changes he’s made since McNicholas and Burak left the team, stepping up and taking the leadership role during a rough time. Sophomore Paul Carbone, who spent a year playing with Bibeau, is one of the young players that look up to the lone senior.
“[Bibeau] knew what he lost and took it upon himself to help us with anything we needed — either grades or at practice,” Carbone said. “After what we went through, anybody can be a captain, but it takes somebody just like [Bibeau] to be a leader.”
Bibeau said he has realistic expectations for his senior year but just wants to help the program improve before he moves on from collegiate golf.
“I’m using this time to work as hard as I can academically and as a golfer,” Bibeau said. “I’d like to leave Temple with my head up.”
Anthony Bellino can be reached at Anthony.Bellino@temple.edu or on Twitter @bellino_anthony.