Shawn Rodehorst completed his third season as head women’s golf coach at the University of Nebraska-Kearney in 2019-20. As a Bulldog, Rodehorst starred for head coach Brett Muller’s men’s golf program. Rodehorst was a three-time All-GPAC performer, a Scholar-Athlete, a three-year team captain and held program records for career and season 18-hole averages at the time of his graduation in 2015. Following his time as a student-athlete, Rodehorst spent two seasons as graduate assistant coach under Muller. He has led the Lopers to two NCAA regional appearances.
You had a job outside of athletics when you finished as a GA at Concordia. Why did you jump on the opportunity at UNK as a head coach?
From the second I started coaching at Concordia I kind of realized that was something I wanted to keep doing. Right when I got done as a GA there weren’t a whole lot of positions open. I had convinced myself that I needed to use my MBA so I took a sales job. I hated it because I didn’t get to build relationships with student-athletes every day. Only about a month into the slates job this job (at UNK) came available so I applied for it right away. I actually applied for another coaching job at the same time and heard back from here pretty quickly. They were in a hiring freeze at the time so I didn’t get to coach the girls until the day before they got here for classes in the fall. We hit the ground running in the fall. It’s been great ever since.
I’ve leaned on connections I’ve made, whether it was Brett Muller or other coaches in the GPAC that I became close with. Different people I know that played pretty high level golf, I leaned on them right away. I just ask them for perspective on different things. I realized I didn’t know a lot so I leaned on a lot of people who helped me out, especially early on.
What was it you learned as your two years as a graduate assistant at Concordia that has made you better in your role now?
The thing I tell everyone about Brett Muller is that he’s probably one of the more organized people you’ll ever meet. With coaching I kind of knew the golf aspect. Obviously there are things you learn through trial and error and how to deal with certain situations. You really just have to have those experiences first. Brett really taught me the administrative and organizational side of things. He’s very prepared and organized. Sometimes the administrator part is more of the job than the actual coaching part. I’m really thankful for that. I’m only out on the course about 20 days a year for tournaments so the rest is usually in the office looking at numbers, looking at scores and figuring out travel plans and all that stuff.
Take us through some of the highlights of your first three years as a head coach and what has stood out during that time?
Obviously making it to NCAA regionals the past two years was pretty special. We were on pace to do it again this year but things out of our control happened. (One of the biggest rewards) is just seeing some of the kids mature and develop from when I got here and how they transition from being freshman into becoming leaders. The process of maturing outside the course is something really special to watch. I think that’s part of the reason we get into coaching – to help young people grow. It’s always really special to see how impressive young people are right from the get-go and some maybe need to grow up a little bit. That’s stuff that really stands out to me and something I’ll remember for a long time.
Did you ever envision yourself being back in your hometown and coaching at UNK. How has that dynamic been special for you?
I grew up going to UNK events. Growing up in Kearney, my father – still does to this day – has always volunteered at football games running the play clock and different things like that. I was always up in the press box with him. I wore Loper blue a lot more than Husker red growing up. I always thought someday I might come back to Kearney. I definitely didn’t think it would come this quickly. When this job came up I just told myself that I’d regret it if I didn’t apply. The AD Paul Plinske was gracious enough to grant me an interview and sit down and talk with me. I’ll forever be thankful to him for giving me a shot.
Now that it’s been a few years since your graduation, what are the memories that stand out to you during your time as a student-athlete at Concordia?
It goes back to what I was saying as a coach. The memories I have as a player aren’t necessarily playing really well in a round or whatever. It’s the relationships that you build with your teammates. Last night I even spent an hour talking to one of my former teammates just catching up on the phone. Some of us are in a group chat and we’ll send texts here and there. That’s the stuff I remember more – like being at hotels, going out and getting pizza late at night and different stuff like that. You can’t get anything like that except within a team atmosphere. I’ll remember those things a lot more than a round in Mitchell, S.D., or anything like that. Those are things that I treasure. Hopefully the girls here can have memories like that to look back on as well.
Along those lines, are you ever going to change your Twitter profile picture?
No, I don’t think so. All three of us (including Matt Dauss and Joel Duensing) have had it since 2014. That would have been May of 2014 when Matt graduated. He’s actually the one I was on the phone with last night. All three of us have had the same (Twitter profile photo). When Joel got married we got together and told him he could change it, but he said no. Every now and then we like to tweet at each other just to confuse people on our timelines. Even with my job now some recruits and parents come meet me for the first time and they see my Twitter and don’t know which one I am. It’s always funny, but I don’t plan on changing it anytime soon.
I’m guessing you may have watched some of The Match that involved Tom Brady recently. Do you think you could beat Tom Brady?
Let’s just put it this way – when you get in front of the lights and you haven’t practiced a lot, some days you look like a scratch golfer and some days you look like a 30 handicap. Now that day, maybe, but I wouldn’t bet against the goat any time. I wasn’t watching it live. I watched it the day after. It was just fine how the second they tried to razz him a little bit he immediately performed. Then on the back nine he played pretty well. I wouldn’t ever bet against him.
When you’re out of your element and you’re used to being in total control sometimes you can be exposed when you haven’t played a lot. It was fun to watch. I think golf is something people can watch and we can do safely. I’ve been fortunate to play here and there during all of this. I definitely would rather be coaching. Right now the junior golf circuit would be ramped up. I would have loved to go out and watch. Seems like people are starting to get out to golf now more than ever.
What was the spring like for you? How did you tell your team about what was going on and were you able to get any meets in this spring?
We flew down to Arizona and played that Monday-Tuesday (March 9-10). We got back late Tuesday night gave them that Wednesday off just from traveling and everything. Then I believe that Wednesday night is when the NBA canceled everything. That Thursday morning my phone was low on battery by about 1 o’clock just because every five minutes we were getting new information about stuff closing. That morning I told the girls, ‘Hey, let’s hold off on practice today and tomorrow because of all this new stuff. I don’t think we would get much done.’ By that afternoon we found out that everything was canceled. By Friday about 1 we had a team meeting. That was pretty much the last time I saw everybody. Everything happened so fast. It was definitely not one of the more fun team meetings ever. I think we were set up to do some pretty good things in the spring. I think sports teach you to control what you can control. In golf you may hit a good shot and it takes a bad bounce or you may misread a putt. You just have to move on and know you did your best. I hope any student-athlete battling through this will come out stronger on the other end. It was definitely unusual for sure.
Usually in the summer I try to go watch as much golf as I can. Being stuck at home isn’t ideal. There’s only so much Netflix you can watch. Hopefully here soon we can get out and start watching kids again. It sounds like we’re good to go for the fall. We’re just getting ready for next year.