For several years, WGA leaders have been in talks about sending caddies to the University of Notre Dame near South Bend, Ind. Now for the first time in nearly 50 years, two students have earned an Evans Scholarship to the prestigious university.
This fall, New Scholars Michael Buche and Anthony LaGuardia will room together in Siegfried Hall on campus.
In June, the students and their families met with WGA and school leaders, including university President John Jenkins, on campus to celebrate the partnership.
Since 1949, 14 caddies have earned an Evans Scholarship to the private university, with the most recent graduating in 1961. Since then, applicants have continued to show interest in attending Notre Dame, say WGA leaders.
Talks of renewing the relationship began years ago between Jim Reilly, a WGA Director and Evans Alum, and Scott Malpass, who is vice president and chief investment officer of the university, as well as a WGA Director. And the timing finally was right to move forward with a new partnership.
“We’re a national university. We’re trying to recruit top students with different backgrounds for a very talented, diverse student body,” Malpass says. “So many great kids get involved in caddie programs across the country. Values like integrity, hard work and discipline are what caddies have to exhibit and certainly are the traits we seek in students. We felt we should be a part of this and have a chance to meet kids we might not have otherwise had the opportunity to.”
Both WGA and Notre Dame leaders hope this is just the beginning of caddies being awarded Scholarships to Notre Dame. Future Scholars also will live together in Siegfried Hall. “We hope to continue building their presence on campus,” Malpass says. “The whole idea of living in community is exactly what we do, and exactly what the Evans Scholars Program wants.”
Malpass will serve as the Evans Scholars advisor, providing mentorship to the students and acting as a liaison between the program, the Scholars and the university. “We’re delighted to have entered into this partnership,” he says.
The renewed relationship is a first step in a bigger plan to expand the scope of the Evans Scholars Program over the next few years, with the Foundation’s Board of Governors approving in May a goal of sending 920 caddies to college by 2017.
This year, WGA has added Notre Dame to the list of universities to which caddies can apply. Next year, leaders plan to begin work on a new state-of-the-art facility with increased living capacity at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as well as make upgrades and improvements to other Scholarship Houses. And in 2015, a new Scholarship House will open at a university in the Pacific Northwest, the first Evans Scholars chapter on the west coast.
The work will continue beyond 2015: Leaders will explore the possibility of adding another Evans Scholarship chapter to a new university and expand other existing chapters to reach the goal of having more than 900 caddies in college by 2017.
Expansion opportunities are also possible on the East Coast, which has hundreds of clubs with active caddie programs. The WGA already has begun to partner with local golf organizations to provide their caddies with Evans Scholarship opportunities.
On the applicant end, leaders are working to develop the caddie pipeline. The WGA’s Caddie Academy is in its second year, with similar programs across the country either ongoing or in the works.
“It’s an exciting time of growth for the Evans Scholars Foundation,” says John Kaczkowski, WGA President and CEO. “In recent years, we have seen record numbers of caddies applying for the Scholarship, and we have been fortunate enough — thanks to the outstanding generosity of our supporters — to be able to send more caddies to college. We are doing everything we can on our end to ensure that no qualified candidate is left without a chance to attend college.”
Meet the new Notre Dame Evans Scholars
Anthony LaGuardia (left)
Anthony is from Seattle and caddied at Seattle Golf Club. He plans to major in business. He has a 4.0 GPA, holds one of his high school’s most prestigious leadership roles and has founded and participated in many clubs, including Model United Nations. He’s also captain of his golf team. “I want to be in an environment with dedicated students who challenge me to work hard.”
Michael is from Crestwood, Ill., and caddied at The Beverly Country Club. He plans to major in engineering. He was ranked third in his high school class, served as captain of the hockey team and counts service, math, golf and marching band among his many varied interests. “I am someone who wants more from college than just an education.”