Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blaue, coach follow same road

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 1/25/2013

Wendell Smith and Austin Blaue took the same steps to Ottawa University, but two decades apart.

It began the moment they were born. Both sets of parents are Ottawa graduates.

Wendell Smith and Austin Blaue took the same steps to Ottawa University, but two decades apart.

It began the moment they were born. Both sets of parents are Ottawa graduates.

Smith is entering his seventh season as the OU men’s golf coach. Blaue has played golf most of his life. He will be a four-year varsity golfer for Ottawa High School. He has two state tourney appearances, so playing collegiate golf was an option for him.

Blaue also excelled in the classroom and applied for the OU Presidential Scholarship, which is a competitive scholarship awarded to selected first-year students who seek to be agents of change in their college careers and beyond.

Blaue was awarded the scholarship, but Smith did not take any chances and recruited him like anybody else.

“He had options,” Smith said. “For us to win him over, is a big deal.”

Smith said he could relate to Blaue with Ottawa being the family school.

“I have known his parents since I came here 20 years ago,” Smith said. “I have known Austin his whole life. Really got to know him the last four years. We went to golf camp two years in a row together. We developed a relationship.”

Blaue said the scholarship made his decision easier. He had visited other schools to look at their golf programs.

To him, home felt pretty good. He officially became a Brave Thursday when signed to play golf in the OHS library.

“I am excited to have it done,” Blaue said. “I was stressing out.”

Smith made sure he took Blaue through the same steps as any other recruit.

“I tried to treat him like there was no connection,” he said. “We were not going to take our relationship for granted. I could not be more excited. He is absolutely high character, phenomenal student. He is a very good athlete. It is a good opportunity for him. It is an exciting day for us to have a local kid to make a choice to go to OU.”

Blaue was familiar with the school, so there were no surprises.

“It is where my parents met,” he said of Mike and Becky. “That is kind of cool to keep the tradition alive. They let me decide. I was really happy for that. They showed me the pros and cons of everything. They have been through it before.”

The men’s golf program has been up and down on the course, but stellar in the classroom. Three Braves were selected to the Daktronics NAIA Scholar squad last spring.

“Our teams have been scholar teams four years in a row,” Smith said. “He fits right in the mold of a well-rounded student-athlete we want to have. Our golf program exemplifies that. He will do great at the school and contribute on the campus community.

“Competitively we need to make strides. He brings all those attributes to the table.”

Blaue saw an opportunity to help get the program improve on the competitive scale.

“I enjoy competing,” Blaue said. “You get to play fun courses.”

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