By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University men's golfer Andrew Kibbee (Jr., Kenmore, WA/Bothell HS) provided the Bearcats with quality play throughout his first two seasons on the team. He has recorded six career sub-par rounds, including a career-best of 69 on two occasions.
Kibbee helped Willamette win the 2018-19 Northwest Conference championship while earning Second Team All-NWC honors. He registered his first individual collegiate tournament victory at the Pacific Spring Invitational in 2019. Kibbee placed 88th at the 2019 NCAA Division III Championships, helping Willamette place 13th in the team standings.
In October of 2019, he shot 3-under par in the final round of the NWC Fall Classic to finish first in the individual standings with a 36-hole score of 140. During the 2019-20 season, he recorded a 72.19 unadjusted stroke average, while contributing to Willamette's 297.08 team stroke average.
Although his golfing accomplishments at Willamette are impressive, they represent only a portion of his involvement at Willamette. He's on the Executive Board of the Willamette Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and is active in helping lead the SECURE support group for student-athlete mental health and wellness. Kibbee works as an intramural supervisor in Campus Recreation. He is majoring in Economics and pursuing a minor in Sociology.
"I love that as a member of SAAC, I can help the Athletic Department and our student-athletes at Willamette build a strong culture," Kibbee said. "Student-athletes make up such a huge portion of the Willamette student body, and it is important to me that we build a strong community within Athletics. Being a co-president of SAAC this year, and participating as a men's golf representative since my first year at Willamette, has been an amazing opportunity to connect with fellow athletes."
Helping develop SECURE as a place for student-athletes to receive support from their peers as they seek mental health and wellness has been a meaningful activity for Kibbee.
"Along with three other student-athletes, I helped found a student-athlete mental health and wellness group called SECURE," Kibbee explained. "This has been one of the coolest things I have ever had the opportunity to be involved in, and starting this group from the ground up has been a lot of work. When all the work pans out it is truly a great feeling.
"Obviously, we chose an interesting year to start SECURE with the pandemic," Kibbee noted. "However, I hope that this group will continue long after I've graduated from Willamette. There is such a strong need for mental health services and resources within the athletic community. As student-athletes, we face challenges that other students will never have to face. One huge reason why I am passionate about SECURE is that we aim to bring light to the athletic community surrounding mental health, and we want to let student-athletes know that they are not alone in the struggles they may face."
Kibbee also interacts with other students as a supervisor within the Intramural program. Even with COVID-19 protocols, Willamette has been able to offer Intramural activities.
"We put on all the Intramural events, tournaments, and leagues," Kibbee said. "With the pandemic, we have switched to one-day events to limit exposure. Overall, it's a great job to have on campus, and I work with some great people, including four other student-athletes."
Even with several other time-consuming obligations on campus, being a member of the Willamette men's golf team remains a key part of Kibbee's list of commitments.
"I started playing golf competitively my freshman year of high school, both for my high school team and individually through the Washington State Junior Golf Association (WJGA)," Kibbee said. "I competed in the WJGA State Tournament three years in a row from 2016 through 2018 in the summer."
Now that he's in his third year at Willamette, he has a group of friends on the Bearcat golf team.
"I absolutely appreciate my teammates," Kibbee affirmed. "They constantly push me to be a better man every day at practice and at school, and competing alongside them is an amazing experience. Golf can seem very much like an individual sport, but our team definitely is the exception, and that makes me very proud to be a member."
Kibbee has earned significant success with the Bearcats. Like most competitive golfers, he has a skill that strengthens his game and can give him an edge over many of his opponents. For Kibbe, that skill is driving off the tee.
"I rely a lot on my driving during tournaments," Kibbee noted. "Being able to hit my driver far with good accuracy allows me to reach spots in the fairway other guys can't. There are a couple of guys who can outdrive me in the Northwest Conference, but the strength of my game is not only hitting my driver far but also hitting the fairway. My best collegiate rounds have come from playing aggressively off the tee and hitting my driver whenever I can."
After completing his undergraduate degree in Economics, Kibbee hopes to remain at Willamette by completing the 3/2 MBA program at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management.
"I am planning on applying to the 3/2 Atkinson MBA program for my fourth year starting in the fall of 2021," Kibbee said. "This is a great opportunity that Willamette offers, and I am very excited for what the rest of my academic career here holds. And to top it off, if I am accepted into the program, I will be able to golf my fifth year with my extra eligibility due to the pandemic."