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Stephen Goodridge: A Champion in Balancing Academics and Athletics

Stephen Goodridge: A Champion in Balancing Academics and Athletics

Photo: Stephen Goodridge seen at Bermuda Run Country Club on September 29, 2017 in Bermuda Run, North Carolina. (Brent Clark/AP Images for Rochester Review)

In 2006, sophomore Stephen Goodridge of University of Rochester won the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championship individual title on the same day he took a final exam in optics.

"I remember being very nervous for the exam. Obviously playing the golf tournament in addition to that was also very nerve-wracking," Goodridge recalled. "After the final round, I couldn't relax much because I still had to take the second half of the exam. It was a great experience and I was excited to have won the tournament. It was a lot of golf with a lot of emotions. I was happy to take a break for a while after that day."

Leading by one stroke after three rounds of the NCAA championship, Goodridge had a lot more on his mind than holding the lead. On the final day of the tournament, a Thursday, he took the first part of the final exam from 9:30-11 a.m. in his hotel room. He went to the course to practice a little bit before teeing off just after 1 p.m. Goodridge captured the NCAA title by two strokes, keyed by a 50-foot par putt on his 16th hole of the day (hole #7 since he teed off the back nine).

Photo: Stephen Goodridge (with Emory University head coach Mike Phillips) receiving the Arnold Palmer Award at the 2006 NCAA Men's Golf Championship banquet.

He and his coach, Rich Johnson, attended the championship banquet, where Goodridge was honored as NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championship Medalist, Most Outstanding Player in Division III, and as a First Team All-America honoree. From there, he returned to his hotel room to take the second half of his final exam. He finished the night with a strong exam score and a national championship.

Goodridge began playing golf at age 10, playing it and baseball in middle school before deciding to focus on golf only. "When I was a sophomore in high school, I played a lot of junior tournaments in Pinehurst, North Carolina, which is when I started thinking about playing in college," he remembered. "Some college golf coaches who were at the tournaments talked to me about playing beyond high school."

For him, playing at a school like Rochester was a great combination of athletics and academics. "I chose to attend U of R because it had a great reputation for academics and the golf team seemed like it would be a great fit for me," he commented. "My family and I had a good experience when we took a tour of the campus. The Laboratory for Laser Energetics interested me so I started taking optics classes and ended up continuing that all through college."

Naturally, winning the NCAA title was the highlight of his college golf career, but he also consistently performed well at the UAA Golf Championship, earning First Team All-Association honors three times and second team recognition once. In fact, he ended up with three second-place finishes in the championship tournament, including tying for medalist honors in both his freshman and sophomore campaigns before falling in playoffs.

"My freshman year, I lost in a three-hole playoff to Mike Lebow (Emory University) at my home course, Stafford Country Club," he recalled. "It was extremely cold and windy for those two days." The following year, he fell in a playoff at the Minisceongo Golf Club in Pomona, New York. 

Photos: Stephen Goodridge during his junior season at University of Rochester.

His fondest memories encompass the entire college experience. "Developing relationships with classmates and friends, and the memories from taking classes and learning from great professors are some of my best experiences," Goodridge stated. "Certainly, the opportunities to play golf on some excellent courses under some very tough conditions, winning a number of them, and walking the grounds of Oak Hill Country Club will always be great memories."

Although the spring portion of the golf season was more challenging because the later tournaments coincided with final exams, Goodridge found a way to always balance his academics and athletics. "I would usually bring my schoolwork with me on trips and do work on the van rides," he commented. "For some classes, I would need to get my work done before we left on a trip, but it usually wasn't too difficult to balance."

Goodridge married soon after earning his master's degree in 2009. He and his wife have two children under the age of three and currently live in North Carolina. "I have played in various amateur tournaments in the North Carolina and Virginia areas in the years since I graduated and still play a lot of golf."