A Student-Athlete's Perspective: The Western Swing | Part 2
As promised, K-State Sports Extra also chatted with Travis Britz, Boston Stiverson and Stanton Weber of the football team as well as men's basketball players Justin Edwards and DJ Johnson about their time on the Western Swing.
From Dodge City to Garden City to Scott City to Colby to Hays, these five guys spent plenty of time on the golf course competing in scramble tournaments all week long.
"One of the best parts of this week has been the golfing," said Edwards. "I've never golfed before this week. I've been to the driving range but that's about it. So being on the green and putting, just golfing in general, it's way harder than I thought it would be."
Edwards, a lefty on the course, said though he had never played before, he continued to improve throughout the week. Improvement on the golf course as the week went on was a common theme among these five student-athletes.
"Well, I went golfing Wednesday morning and I lost about 10 balls and today I only lost one ball, so I've made improvement," laughed Britz at the end of the week. "I've made contact with the ball, that's something I've never done before, and I'll probably never do again, but I've had fun with it. The best part of the golf is meeting these people, though, that's really the best thing."
At each Catbacker golf scramble, the student-athletes are split up among the tournaments' teams and spend the day getting to know some of their biggest fans.
"I hit three birdie putts today, so it's been my best day of the week," said Stiverson when asked about his golf game on Thursday afternoon in Colby. "The guys I was playing with today were awesome; we had a lot of fun."
Each day after the golf tournaments, the student-athletes would spend time working with local children at the K-State Catbacker Kids Fun Zones. From shooting hoops with Johnson and Edwards to scoring touchdowns on Britz, Stiverson and Weber, children from these cities out west had the opportunity to get to know a few of their favorite players.
"I have had a blast golfing and hanging out with the kids every day," said Stiverson with a smile. "It's been a great time spending time with these kids and the K-State supporters. It was my first Catbacker event ever, and I have had a really great time."
Like Stiverson, it was the first time for most of the student-athletes on this year's Western Swing. Of the group, Johnson was the only student-athlete to have traveled previously as he spent a week out west last year.
"Everybody had questions, so I let them know how things were done out here," said Johnson about his fellow student-athletes. "I told them what every city would be like, and that it's a good time. With the group that we've had this year, everyone is outgoing. It's been really fun."
As a matter of fact, Johnson returned from last summer's Western Swing and spoke so highly of it that it made Edwards want to make the trip this year.
"DJ told me it was a fun experience, a good time, so I wanted to do something different than I normally do... get out of my comfort zone," explained Edwards, who, as a native of Whitby, Ontario, was definitely far, far from his comfort zone. "Being out here and talking to people, talking to our fans, I knew it would be fun for me. Also, it's been encouraging to know that even though we had a rough year, we still have a lot of fans supporting us and cheering us on."
Though it may be a different culture, a different way of life, these Wildcats loved every second of this year's Western Swing.
"I'm from Kansas City, and the people out here are different in a lot of really great ways," explained Weber. "Everyone is hospitable, they care about what really matters and they love K-State, that's apparent. To have the opportunity to do this is really neat. Growing up, this is the kind of stuff I'd see student-athletes doing, and I dreamed of being able to be in their position."
Added Britz, "The Western Swing is a one-of-a-kind thing. It's something that you can't truly experience unless you're out here for it. You don't understand the kind-heartedness of these people unless you have the chance to come out here and spend a week with them. You don't find this everywhere in America, and it's something that K-State can pride itself on."
An area of the state that swells with K-State pride, it didn't take long for some to decide on making the trip to western Kansas an annual thing.
"I can't think of a part that I didn't like about the week," said Johnson. "From the food to meeting these people who help us out to the kids camps, I can't tell you one thing that I don't like about this trip. Everything was great, and I plan on coming out here again next year and every year of my K-State career."