Getting a new job can be stressful. Maybe a little less so when it means there’s twice as much time for golf.
Two weeks ago, New Jersey City University announced that it would add women’s golf as an intercollegiate sport. In doing so, men’s head coach Joe Yeck was elevated to lead the new women’s team as well, allowing him to shed split duties in the admissions office.
The 2003 graduate from Gettysburg Area High School is happy to be hitting the links with a little more frequency.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Yeck said. “Some schools are cutting back on athletics, so it’s great to be at a place that’s adding sports.”
The women’s golf team is the ninth intercollegiate sport added to the school’s roster since 2018, bringing its total to 21 in all. The Division 3 Knights now have more sports teams than any other school in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, according to a press release issued by the school. The golf team competes in the Capital Athletic Conference, where the men finished last in the conference championship last year.
Yeck became the fourth men’s coach in the program’s 10-year history in April of 2018. He’d previously served as an assistant coach at McDaniel College (2010-2012) and Drew University (2016-2018). This will be the first time that his focus will be strictly on developing golfers.
Since taking the women’s job, Yeck has spent much of his time traveling to tournaments along the east coast to watch and speak with high school-aged prospects. He’s also reaching out by phone, email and text to gauge interest.
“We’re trying to get as many kids interested as possible,” she said. “Where we are with our program, it’s all about quantity right now. We’ll work on developing more talent over the next couple years.”
One of the biggest challenges in recruiting for a developing program can be convincing talented players to take a chance on a new coach. That’s doubly true at NJCU, where the majority of students come from a blue-collar background, Yeck said.
“Our kids aren’t coming from country clubs all the time,” he said. “They don’t always have the means to get out and play the summer circuits, so we corner the market with high school players. You build relationships from the get-go and let them know you really want them, that you’ll be there for them throughout their career.”
One of the biggest selling points of a new program is that freshmen may not have to wait in line to earn their starting spot, Yeck said.
Yeck was a four-year varsity starter for the Warriors’ golf team in high school. He was also a standout in varsity basketball and baseball.
At two-sport athlete at York College, Yeck was a two-year captain for the golf team, shooting a career-best round of 71. He also helped the Spartans men’s basketball team qualify for the Division 3 Final Four in his sophomore year and finished his career with 95 games played, 410 points, 202 assists and 160 rebounds.
Yeck began his coaching career soon after graduating with a degree in sports management. He added a business administration masters at Mount Saint Mary’s before pursuing a coaching career. After two successful years as an assistant coach at McDaniel, he began to feel burned out, but became rejuvenated when he returned to coaching at Drew in 2016.
“Some people have a direct path they want to pursue,” Yeck said. “It hasn’t been an easy road, but having a school offer me a head coaching job, that’s something I couldn’t pass up. With full-time status on the athletic side, I can really make my own mark and build the program from the ground up.”
Adam Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at @GoodOldTwoNames