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The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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A Career in the Works: Gover Talks Life On and Off the Links and the Ice

Graphic by Angelina Clark.

Despite setting foot on campus for the first time roughly two months ago, Mat Gover ‘27 has already made his mark as an MCLA Trailblazer in historic fashion as a member of the Men’s Golf team. In what turned out to be a record-setting year, he would capture six individual titles and be selected as a member All-MASCAC First Team selection as well as receive both Rookie and Player of the Year honors. Not too bad for a guy who initially came to North Adams to be a member of the returning Men’s Ice Hockey Program.

Gover’s journey to the Berkshires started out roughly 136 miles away growing up in Atkinson, New Hampshire, where his love for both golf and ice hockey would be ignited early on in his life, with his father teaching him how to ice skate and how to swing a golf club at the age of two, helping to create a competitive drive that he continues to with him in all that he does to this day. “I’m a very big competitor and I love to compete,” he said. “You tell me to get up and down here, and I’ll do it nine times out of ten. It’s just something about the competitive nature, it’s just a little different.”

It certainly did help that the community of Atkinson is rich in golf history. He would spend his early days going to the Atkinson Resort & Country Club and the Renaissance Golf Club in Haverhill, Massachusetts, which helped ignite his love for the game.

“Being in Atkinson, I live right across from the Atkinson Country Club, so it’s been a great resource,” he said. “The connections I’ve also made at [Renaissance Golf Club], which is my home course, it has prepared me for not only a future in golf, but a future in life too, so I feel like taking my experiences from up there and bringing it over [to MCLA] has really been helpful.”

Those connections include a long list of professional fellow golfers who have worked with Gover and made a name for themselves both in the local community and even at the national level. They include players such as Nick Macarrio, who is currently ranked 753rd nationally in the sport according to World Amateur Golf Ranking, Nick Pandalena, who has competed in the New England Pro Circuit, and Chris Francoeur, who is currently a part of the PGA Tour in Canada. 

In addition to golf and ice hockey, Gover was a three-sport athlete, also playing baseball until high school, when he gave it up in order to focus more on golf. Gover cited the swinging motion of a baseball bat and golf club would cause him to falter in either one or the other, as well as just having a greater passion for the game of golf in why he made this decision.

At the same time, by the time Gover was a sophomore in high school, he had the realization that his athletic talents in both sports could potentially allow him to make it to that next level so many athletes look to reach: the NCAA. 

“I had a pretty solid freshman year,” he said. “I ended up having a score average of 36, won MVP and my best friend won states, which was a really cool experience, but it was that year I’d say golf-wise, I could potentially go somewhere, and then hockey-wise, I would say in between freshman year and sophomore year when… I realized I could actually go somewhere.”

Gover would continue enhancing his abilities in both sports and accomplish remarkable feats. In hockey, he would be selected to compete in a National Development Camp in 2018. In golf, at the age of 16, he competed in his very first New Hampshire State Amateur tournament, where he would make it to the semifinal round. He also would be awarded the New Hampshire Junior Player of the Year in golf in 2019.

After graduating high school at Virtual Learning Academy, Gover had a decision to make. He had offers to continue in both sports, including a Division I offer for golf. However, after consulting with others on what he should do, he made the decision to pursue hockey and put golf on the back burner for the time being, citing how hockey has a shorter lifespan for a career as opposed to golf.

“My goal was to pursue hockey as far as I could because the time frame for hockey is a lot shorter than it is for golf,” he said. “I know people say that if you go to a Division I program for golf, it’ll help develop you to go pro, but in reality, after talking to some pros that I know, you can go to any golf program. It’s how you develop yourself, the program’s not going to develop you.”

Rather than attending college straight out of high school, Gover would sign with the East Coast Wizards of the Eastern Hockey League. Based out of Bedford, Massachusetts, he would spend two seasons with the team, starting 53 games as a goalie, and collecting 21 wins in the process. It then came time to make a decision on where he would pursue his next four years as a student-athlete, and right away, MCLA stood out as a major option. He credited head coach, Jeremiah Ketts, for seeing “who I am as a hockey player,” and would allow him the opportunity to continue pursuing his athletic career not just in ice hockey, but also in golf, whereas other programs wanted him to solely focus on the one sport.

“MCLA stood out to me because one, the location. I love mountains, I love any location where you’re almost in the middle of nowhere, but not really,” he said. “Also, It’s also how hockey is intertwined with the community and how we’re not just building a hockey program, but we’re also kind of rebuilding the community of North Adams and towns around North Adams.”

“That was the original plan going into this, and it was pretty cool to be one of those guys that was recruited to help do that, and as a bonus, it was also great to help rebuild the golf program as well. It’s just a unique opportunity you don’t get to see every day, where you get to build a program from the ground up,” he continued.  

It was a year ago when the MCLA Men’s Golf program finished eighth in the MASCAC Championship Tournament. But as soon as he set foot on campus, Gover made his mark right away in athletics, as his individual play, along with teammates Water Brown ‘27, Addam Brunner ‘27, Alex Ferris ‘27, Landry Laird ‘27, Paul Roeder ‘24, and Cody White ‘27, would help capture a runner-up spot in the MASCAC Championship this past season.

“We’re so young, and we were competing in every single golf tournament we played,” he said. “I’m very excited to see next year’s season, because I have a very good feeling we’re gonna win the MASCAC at least once or twice within my four years here, and this batch here, we made some great memories, the van rides up we’re probably some of the best times, and the team comradery was unmatched.”

With golf now in the rearview, Gover is now focused on the next task ahead of rebuilding the hockey program and the community of North Adams. Already, he’s seen the community “pumped up” for the upcoming season and wants to deliver on their hopes for the team.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how the school and the town react to hockey games,” he said. “I have a feeling our games are gonna be an atmosphere like no other, because we don’t have a very big rink as is, so you get a ton of people in a small rink, that atmosphere is gonna be so insane, and it’s gonna be one of the more fun atmospheres to play in all of college hockey.”

While Gover has already had so much success dawning the Trailblazer gold and blue, he is still only a first-year student. The story of what could be a Hall of Fame-worthy MCLA career is still waiting to be written, and it is just a matter of time before the community sees it all unveiled. 

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Owen Brown, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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    Roberta AllenNov 10, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    Thoroughly enjoyed Mat’s story