Family Man, Leader, Golfer: Stan Guerrero
Dec. 14, 2006
There is only one thing that Stan Guerrero loves more than golf. As the stately Mexico native spoke in my office his smile grew as he explained the importance of his family. His grandfather taught him the game at four years old. His father pushed him to grow as an athlete. His mother doesn't even know what a bogey is, but she certainly knows how to be the backbone of his support. Both brothers relate as athletes. The older is a mentor in golf and a playing partner; the younger plays soccer. For Stan, family is everything.
The pressures of going away to college are magnified for Guerrero by an entire continent, as his family resides in Tijuana, Mexico over 2,300 miles away. The strain is easier for Guerrero than for most, however, because he has been at boarding school since the 5th grade.
The junior has led a life filled with the sport of golf since his young education from his grandfather. He was taught at the Tijuana Country Club before heading to the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He completed his education at The Pendleton School while constantly working on his game at the golf academy.
In 1995, at the age of nine, Estanislao Guerrero Mercado claimed victory at the Junior World Golf Championships. In the 17-year history of the event only two players have shot sub-50 rounds. Guerrero set the event record at 48 in 1995 as a nine-year old until four years later a 47 was posted by what is considered to be this year's top college recruit, Philip Francis. After winning it all in 1995, Guerrero returned and tied for fourth in 1996.
"Winning the Junior Worlds really got me into the game. That pretty much convinced me--well, I just knew that was the thing I was going to do," Guerrero stammered as if his love of golf kept the words from flowing easily. As Guerrero grew older, he began to realize the best opportunity to play golf and become educated would be to remain in the United States.
"I knew I would need a scholarship. Once I heard from the coach here, I took the opportunity right away," said Guerrero of Old Dominion head coach Murray Rudisill. "Coming here has definitely changed my life in a good way. For me to continue to play golf at this point in my life; it feels awesome to be a part of this school."
Guerrero explained that if you choose to attend school in Mexico, there is very little support for athletics. A definitive strain on academics and other sports would have made competitive golf a memory for him. Reflecting on his brother's experience, Guerrero explained that although a terrific golfer himself, attending school in Mexico ended any possibility to play further due to the lack of support.
Understanding the importance of his family only enhances his love for the game.
"A lot of what you go through on the golf course you can apply it to life," said Guerrero. "You're constantly trying to get through it. Forget about your mistakes and move on to your next shot." His euphemism was clearly thought out and gave a deep look into the complexities of a golfers mind.
For instance, Guerrero is certain that the reason ODU golfers are doing so well on par-fives (ranked sixth nationally with a 2.95 scoring average) is a mindset. Whenever he approaches a par-five he blocks out anything but eagle. His concentration and delivery was enough to convince me that even I could drain an eagle any time I wanted!
The golfer also took time to explain the difference of being a part of a golf team. In the past when he wasn't playing well, he was able to "throw away a round." However, as a part of a team Guerrero stresses the importance to "fight `til the end."
"Right now I'm on a team and they're counting on you. You gotta give 100% just for them. You always have to fight until the end."
That is really what Stan Guerrero brings to the ODU golf team. It's the ability to convince another that it's all in your head. It's the ability to teach others and create a team dynamic in a game where individuality reigns. It's the ability to fight `til the end. It's the ability to lead. The golfer has a wealth of experience that he can and does pass to the younger members of the team. Of the eight other golfers on the ODU team, Stan is older than seven. The eighth? Kyle Hartlaub, a fellow junior and member of the Leadbetter Golf Academy in high school.
"For credibility, I have to play well," said Guerrero. "I see myself as a leader, and I want to set an example. I push them to leave the school a better golfer...I can teach them a lot. I know they can teach me things too, but I can teach them a lot. And one of the things I emphasize is practice. Some guys have this natural talent and think they never have to practice. My work ethic helps them realize that even if they have talent, practice is so important."
A man of Hispanic heritage will most certainly hold his family in high regard as Guerrero most certainly does. The support his family gives only sets ablaze his fiery passion for golf. However, among the many accolades of Guerrero's career, a collegiate win is not one of them yet. Among his many goals, this tops the list. For a young man as well-spoken and selfless as Guerrero seems, a fan has to root for a guy whose mantra is "fight `til the end."
Get To Know Stan In 30 Seconds:
My Favorite Golfer: Tiger Woods
My Favorite Club: MacGregor
My Favorite Course: St. Andrews
My Favorite Golf Moment (Professional): Tiger Woods, chip-in against Chris DiMarco
My Favorite Golf Moment (Personal): Winning the Junior Worlds at age 9
My Favorite Actor/Actress: Matt Damon
My Favorite Movie: Bourne Identity
My Favorite Musician of all Time: Maroon 5
My Favorite Food: Mexican
My Favorite Athlete: Tiger Woods
My Favorite Pro Team: America (Soccer Club in Mexico)
If I could play any other sport it would be: Soccer
My dream date is: Nelly Furtado
If I could appear on the cover of any magazine it would be: GolfWeek
Nobody knows how much I like: dancing
My dream job would be: chatting with Tigers Woods at the 19th hole