Galt Collegiate’s Matt Chiasson accepts a scholarship with Ashford University
Matt Chiasson will soon be taking his game south but he didn't have to get on a plane on Wednesday to find golf weather.
David Bebee/Record staff
His parents are both teachers and he wants to become one as well, so hitting the books, putting up good marks and attending university are all huge for the fifth-year student at Galt Collegiate Institute. The next step toward his career goal will take place in August when Chiasson heads to Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa, to attend classes and compete for the men’s golf team.
Chiasson, a veteran member of the Whistle Bear Junior Performance team and Golf Canada’s 49th-ranked junior player, has accepted a scholarship to play for the Saints while pursuing a degree in physical education. Ashford competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and will begin the spring season as the 19th-ranked team in America.
“I’m very excited. I like the idea that it’s a small school and there are only 20 to 30 students in a class instead of 50, so you get to spend more time with your teachers,” said Chiasson.
“And the golf course is really nice and the coach, Josh Hieple, is taking the team in the right direction and wants me to be part of that.”
Indeed, he does.
The coach has nothing but great things to say about his recruit in announcing the deal on the Ashford website.
“Matt is an exceptional player with a great deal of tournament experience,” said Heiple. “I expect an immediate impact on the course as we continue to move our program forward here at Ashford. His coach, Dave Smallwood, is one of the top golf instructors in Canada and I have no doubt that Matt is prepared to take on the rigors of college golf.”
Heiple was actually the first coach to contact Chiasson after he posted his resumé on the College Prospects of America website. The coach reached out in January of 2012 but Chiasson wasn’t ready to make a commitment and returned to Galt for a fifth year.
Chiasson has been groomed by Smallwood, Mike Skimson and sports psychologist Rich Ennis at Whistle Bear for the past five years, racking up victories on a number of junior tours along the way. He was the overall champion on the Ian Leggatt Tour in 2011 and also racked up four victories on the Maple Leaf Junior Tour to finish second overall on the provincial order of merit and seventh on the national order of merit.
“It’s a good situation for Matt. He’s worked hard and he deserves everything he gets . . . he’s a great young kid,” said Smallwood, who was named Ontario PGA teacher of the year in the fall.
Chiasson cranked up the intensity in 2012 and played in tougher tournaments against stronger opponents to take his game to an even higher level. There were fewer wins, but he achieved success by surviving the first cut at the Toronto Star men’s amateur and securing a spot in the 2013 tournament. He finished in a tie for first in a qualifying event for the Golf Association of Ontario’s junior match play championship and wound up reaching the round of 16 before falling on the 20th hole. He also qualified for the Canadian junior golf championship in Nova Scotia, but missed the cut by one stroke.
Chiasson played in 16 total events in 2012, recording a scoring average of 74.6 while winning three times – twice on the Leggatt and once on the Maple Leaf — and finishing in the top-five on 12 occasions. He also managed a second-place finish at the Waterloo County high school championship and finished in a tie for 11th at the Central Western Ontario level, competing at both events against many of his golfing buddies from Whistle Bear. He finished the season with a +0.6 handicap, or slightly better than scratch.
Since then, Chiasson has been paying regular visits to the Golf Performance Center at Whistle Bear and even managed to play 18 holes on Jan. 12 at Grand Valley during a winter thaw. He won’t play again until March, when he heads to Florida and joins Smallwood and Skimson at the Old Corkscrew Golf Club in Estero.
Prior to hooking up with Whistle Bear, Chiasson got his start at Puslinch Lake Golf Course and received instruction from current University of Waterloo coach Dave Hollinger.
Chiasson celebrated his 19th birthday on Wednesday by studying for a pair of exams on Thursday – business and kinesiology. His father Steve is a physical education teacher at Hespeler Public School, while his mother Gwen is a science and chemistry teacher at Galt, which has its perks.
“If I forget money or something, she’s there,” Chiasson laughed.
As for his own career path, he hopes follow in his father’s footsteps and teach physical education