United Nations of Lynn
International flair puts team in position at DII tournament
HERSHEY, Pa. -- Forget the Bad News Bears. Lynn University is the United Nations of NCAA Division II men’s golf.
Five different countries are represented on the Fighting Knights roster here this week, and they’re quite literally from all across the globe:
• Filip Timmerman is from Santiago, Chile.
• Ernesto Vitienes, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
• Jose Andres Miranda, Quito, Ecuador.
• Roberto Francioni, Zurich, Switzerland.
• And, finally, Daniel Young, Perth, Scotland.
Counting head coach Andrew Danna of Baton Rouge, La., and assistant coach Diego Polo, who hails from Guatemala City, Guatemala, a total of seven -- count ‘em, seven -- nations are represented. Those are just the players who are here. Lynn’s overall roster also features players from the Netherlands, Italy, Mexico and Colombia.
It’s not just some strange twist of fate, either. The team is a fair example of Lynn in general, in that 23 percent of its student body is from outside the United States.
“I think it has to do with the players throughout the history of the program,” Danna said of his squad’s international diversity. “They have a good experience at Lynn, and then when they go home to their home countries, they tell the other juniors from those countries. They tell them about the school, and we have such a rich tradition, that helps a lot.”
That’s precisely how it worked out for Young. Gavin Dear played for Lynn a few years ago, and helped bring Young across the pond from Scotland to sunny South Florida. Asked what it’s like to be part of such a group, Young grins and chuckles.
“It’s interesting,” Young said. “It’s great. I’ve been here for four years, and it’s always been the same. We’ve always have people from all over. Everybody seems to get along real well.”
And while Young hasn’t exactly picked up on the Spanish that’s the native language of some of his teammates, they do have golf and football -- no, not that football -- in common. A handful of the team’s golfers have played what Americans know as soccer at fairly high levels, and it’s been just one of the things that’s brought the team together.
A language barrier is just one of the issues that might derail other programs with student-athletes from a variety of backgrounds -- be they socioeconomic or international. That hasn’t been the case at Lynn, Danna insists.
“To be honest with you, I wouldn’t say there have been any challenges that any other coach coaching any other team in the country would face,” he said. “Our kids, they’re talented and they work really hard. They focus just as hard on academics as they do on golf. They’re great kids.”
Lynn stood second after the first day of competition in Hershey, and fifth following Day 2. After being disqualified from its first tournament of the year due to what Danna called a “miscommunication,” Lynn didn’t exactly struggle during the next few weeks. All the team did was go out and win three of its next four outings to swing into contention for a DII national championship.
“[Missing the first tournament] kind of set us back, but we played well from that point on and it led us to where we are today,” Danna said. “We were always a good team. The determination, the focus of the guys at practice and their resiliency is pretty strong.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a struggle. We bounced back pretty quick in the fall. It just says a lot about our team, how consistent they are, what they do with their habits and how they play. It’s the same thing in the classroom. They don’t let too much affect them.”