The best is yet to come for men’s golf’s lone senior, Shawn Foley.
Foley and Nick Huggins are the only returns from last year’s group, and head Coach Tom Porten has been looking to them to fulfill a guidance role, as the team introduced five new faces to the club this season.
“It has been a totally different dynamic,” Porten said. “That is why we have relied on Shawn and Nick to really bring this freshman class through and kind of teach them the simple things. When you are freshmen everything is moving at the speed of light. Shawn has been really good at taking the younger players and sitting them down and showing them the ropes.”
For most of his life, Foley has had a passion for golf. His father, Dave, was a successful collegiate golfer at Texas A&M and transferred to Ole Miss, so Foley grew up with the mentality that one day he would be able to say he followed in his father’s footsteps and golfed at a Div. I school.
“He is the one who got me started,” Foley said. “He has always helped [push] me to practice and play better. He was my biggest inspiration growing up.”
Before golfing collegiality, Foley had some golfing success of his own while attending Waukesha North High School in Wisconsin. His accomplishments included a four-time all-conference selection.
He was elected to third team all-conference as a freshman, second team as a sophomore and first team his junior and senior seasons. He was also named team captain his senior season, but what he loved most was sharing golfing experience with his fellow seniors.
“We were all really good friends; that is what I remember the most,” Foley said. “Just having a good time with those same guys over those four years was special.”
Out of high school, Foley was interested in attending Drake and had an offer set and almost committed to the university. With his senior high school season still ahead of him, he won the Future Collegians World Tour at Notre Dame.
That tournament was one of Foley’s all-time career highlights win, and the first time he met Porten.
Foley visited NIU a week later. Three day after his visit he committed to the golfing program at the college. After changing his mind on his college of choice and finishing up high school, the transition to NIU was not easy.
“It was a huge shock due to the time management I had to put in, and the biggest shock was just being worn out because you are constantly doing stuff,” Foley said. “Another big thing for me was just getting used to the new responsibilities of college.”
In his first tournament as a freshman, which was played in Louisville, Foley placed 10th.
He followed that up with a sixth-place finish at the same tournament the next season. He has had a good scorecard in Illinois, with his career-high finish in fifth last season at the John Dallio Memorial at DePaul University scoring (78-71-76=225).
With more of a leadership role needed this season, Foley is looking forward to what is ahead.
“I just want to play as good as possible and have a lot of fun this year,” Foley said. “I am going to try and finish off strong for my final year.”