By Nicole Fitzsimmons, News Editor
The Manhattan College men’s golf team is expecting to rebuild itself in upcoming seasons with the addition of a new head coach and new facilities to practice and compete in.
The new head coach, Keith Prokop, previously coached the Dominican University golf team and also has played golf at the professional level for about eight years. He won the CACC Title in 2019 and 2020 while earning CACC Coach of the Year honors in 2018 and 2019, according to GoJaspers.
Prokop led Dominican University to the program’s first-ever appearance at the NCAA DII National Golf Championships during the 2017 season. In that season, the team became champions of the East/Atlantic Super Regionals. In just three years, Prokop took the team from being ranked 203 in the nation, to that appearance in the national championships.
Prokop told the Quadrangle about how these experiences have impacted him as a coach.
“So with all these different experiences, obviously coaching, bringing a team up and playing myself I know the physical, the mental and everything in between to be able to understand what it is and what it takes to get yourself to that next level,” he said.
Prokop believes that his experiences both playing and coaching allow him to approach coaching through a positive, reflective process with his athletes.
“I think reflection is the most important part of the learning process,” Prokop said. “If you’re able to reflect on the good, you can be able to repeat it at a high rate. So, you need to have that reflection on both sides of the coin. You need to be able to figure out what you’re doing wrong and be hard on yourself at times to be able to improve, but you absolutely need to reflect during the good to be able to understand how you did it and why you did it to be repeated.”
Prokop hopes to grow as a program through this coaching mentality alongside creating positive relationships with the athletes.
“I like to think of myself as a player’s coach, the reason why I feel like I’ve been successful as a coach is because I always look at it from the player’s point of view,” Prokop said. “Just like they reflect on what they’re doing, I reflect on what I’m doing. I asked what they need, and I want to be able to have everything that they utilize. So when I built my program at Dominican, I asked myself what would I have wanted out of a program and how could I have made it better, and that’s why we had great success right away.”
The addition of new golf facilities at Manhattan College is also something Prokop is excited to utilize in upcoming seasons.
“I think being able to have the new facilities of both courses that we’re utilizing, and in the future, we’re gonna be able to use the indoor facility so it’s going to be a huge asset to be able to work in that during the offseason, to be able to work at night, to be able to have that nice balance between academic and athletic and have everything right there accessible for our student athletes,” Prokop said.
The golf team recently competed in their first outing at the Ryan T. Lee Memorial Collegiate in Connecticut, where the team placed 15th after shooting a 290 (+14), according to GoJaspers.
These results, Prokop believes, are indicative of the beginnings of success which will follow the rebuilding of the program.
“Success is a lagging indicator,” Prokop said. “We’re not going to see the success right away with this new program. Not saying that in a bad way, because we will see some great tournament results, as we saw on day one for our first event. I’m very positive and very excited about the next upcoming tournaments. The more work we put in, the more success we will see. During the spring in the MAAC championship, I hope to see that great success.”
Marianne Reilly, director of intercollegiate athletics at Manhattan College, is excited to see growth from the team in upcoming seasons with coach Prokop’s leadership.
“The Jasper Family is excited to welcome Keith to Riverdale to lead our golf program,” Reilly said, according to GoJaspers. “Keith is a proven winner personally and professionally and teaches the skills necessary to win as he did at Dominican College. We look forward to him doing great things at Manhattan College.”
Prokop is excited for the upcoming season, to become part of the Jasper family, and to watch his new golfers grow.
“I’m just excited to be part of the Jasper family in general,” Prokop said. “It’s been a blessing to be a part of it. I’m very excited about these new challenges and expectations ahead of me. I have a great group of student athletes, great young men. They’ve been a great group and I’m very excited to be coaching them.”