When it comes to family, you know you can always rely on them no matter the distance, but when they go to the same school as you, and in this case are a teammate, there's a bond and closeness that rivals no other. Men's golfer Levi Gough (Lynn, Ind./Randolph Southern High School) is the older brother of much taller teammate Ian Gough (Lynn, Ind./Randolph Southern High School), and credits much of his success and enjoyment in the game of golf, dating even as far back to his younger days of middle school and high school golf, to Ian.
"You know, I think that I have to say that I'm as good as I am because of (Ian). With us being so much alike, we were both leaning on each other not only when we had trouble with our games, but issues in our lives. I'm grateful to him for that, and I know he is of me."
The bond Levi shares with Ian is comparable to that he shares with his teammates. While maybe not at the same level as a brotherhood would possess, his closeness with his teammates will no doubt trigger success on the links.
"We all get along real well, and where we don't always see each other or hang out, we still have a closeness with each other. When we do get together, though, it's like we all have been close for a long time when we do meet up. We all support each other and have fun. I don't think you can ask for much more from guys like that."
Levi sees this year as one of the better opportunities in recent seasons to possibly capture a Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title with experience and newcomers to the 2013-2014 lineup. With his athletic eligibility moving into the second half of his career, he knows his opportunities are coming to an end.
"We are going to have some tough teams in the conference still that we are going to have to beat in (defending champion) Point Park and (perennial power) Brescia, but I think we are capable of pulling it off. We finished fourth last year, and with a couple extra solid rounds from some guys we could get a couple extra spots higher in the field. I hope that we can make that happen this spring."
Levi posted an 80.9 scoring average in the fall season for the Red Wolves this past fall, and in the 2012-2013 year posted an 80.6 average, giving him IU East's third-best average for the year.
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As the days of being an underclassman have slowly slipped away, the reality of the world outside of college looms large for many upperclassmen such as Levi. This too is the case for women's golfer Kristin Smith (Richmond, Ind./Centerville High School), who too shares the title of a junior and is looking forward to what life away from college has in store for her.
"College coming to an end is something that has definitely been fresh in my mind," Kristin stated quickly. "As much as I have enjoyed my time here at IU East, I am excited to see what the rest of life has to offer me outside of school and golf. It's exciting yet scary at the same time."
Kristin definitely has some events she specifically looks forward to coming in her near future.
"He (Kristin's now-fiancé) definitely caught me off guard in asking me to marry him, but it was a pleasant surprise. We both agreed to wait until we are out of school to get married, so we'll both have plenty of time to do some planning before then.
Kristin has taken school very seriously, as any nursing major should. Kristin's dedication to school left her out of the lineup in many events this past fall (Kristin competed in only one event), but has proven to be a decision that has paid off for her in the past. Kristin landed academic-all-KIAC selections in each of the past two years.
"School is definitely most important to me," she said. "You know I like to get out and play with the team, and we are all really close, but in the end school will take precedence to golf. Golf is a great game, and I love to get out and play, but my time is so consumed with school and extracurricular activities that golf is sort of put on the wayside."
With her newly acquired role as an upperclassmen, Kristin feels as if she is now someone her teammates can come to with anything they feel troubles them.
"I do feel like in a sense I have a bit of an upperclassmen role, and I like that our girls feel like they can come to me and be comfortable doing so. Obviously we have Jordyn (Sparks) (Liberty, Ind./IUPUI) and Lyndsey (Netherly) (Evansville, Ind./ John A. Logan College) who are both older than I am and have experienced a bit more than me, but it is nice to see that trust instilled in me."
Kristin competed in one spring match in 2013, carding a 21st place finish in Manchester University's spring invite.