‘Getting to Know’ is a weekly Q&A feature at ufvcascades.ca where we fire a series of offbeat questions at a Cascades athlete. Some of the questions are serious . . . most are not. This week, we’re interrogating Connor O’Dell, a fourth-year member of the UFV men’s golf team. The Cascades golf program hosts the PING CCAA National Championships next week (Oct. 13-16) at Chilliwack Golf Club.
This week, I understand you have three midterms! And then next week you’re right into golf nationals. How do you navigate a week like this, with all those academic responsibilities and then something as exciting as golf nationals coming up?
“I’m obviously really looking forward to next week! I’m struggling through this week – I’m trying to keep my nose to the ground. Coffee is huge. I’ve never really been a coffee guy, but I’m picking up the addiction.
“I’m not a night person whatsoever, so when it gets to be any time after 10:30, I just shut ’er down. And then I wake up super-early – today I was up at 5 a.m. to study, because I do better studying in the morning than I do in the evening.
“I’m going to segregate my life a little bit – just engulf myself in school for the next three days, and then hopefully get everything done and focus on golf again.”
Cascades head coach Chris Bertram tells me that you’re an adrenaline junkie. What type of adrenaline-y activities do you enjoy?
“Well, he thinks I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie because we had a conversation a while ago about motorbikes. I told him I’ve always wanted to buy a motorbike, but I can’t, because I know I’m going to be one of those guys who’s going 200 km an hour weaving in and out of traffic. That’s what really interests me, and then I’m going to end up dead. So he teases me a bit about being an adrenaline junkie. And last year when I asked him to go skydiving, he said no.”
Did you end up going skydiving?
“No! Because I booked it, and then we showed up and it was too cloudy and they wouldn’t let us go. But it’s definitely on the bucket list for this year or next year.”
Well, Chris tells me that you’re not only an adrenaline junkie, you also play golf that way. Do you bring a bit of a risk-taking type of mentality to the course?
“Yeah, absolutely. If you take a look at my golf scores, there’s usually a ton of birdies, and plenty of bogies and doubles to compensate for it. Chris has a different style of golf than I do. Chris would like me to aim for the centre of the green and make sure I make par. Whereas, I love making birdies and find it a bit of thrill going after the flagstick. So I aim at a lot of flagsticks. If there’s a par four where I think I can drive it on the green and make eagle, I’m going to go for it. . . . Go big or go home, right?”
Chris also tells me he believes you have the best beard in the PacWest, maybe in all of Canadian university sport, and perhaps in the entire golf world if not for Graham DeLaet! Is this beard something you take some pride in?
“You know, I don’t think it’s that special. I think it’s quite mediocre at best. Except compared to all the rest of the guys on the golf team who can barely grow peach fuzz, it looks pretty studly. So the statement that it’s the best beard in the PacWest or Canada, that’s far out of my league. There’s a lot of guys who have a lot better facial hair than I do. But compared to my teammates, I look great.”
You’re from Maple Ridge, B.C. What’s something that you can get in Maple Ridge that you just can’t get anywhere else?
“Boston cream doughnuts at the Europe Bakery and Deli. It’s right next to where I work – it’s so good. I try not to go there too often (for doughnuts) for health reasons, but when I’m working, I’m probably there twice a week.
“And, it’s a cool location. Maple Ridge is the only spot in the Lower Mainland where you’re kind of trapped. You’re right up against the mountains, and to go anywhere, you have to go over a river. If you want to go to Coquitlam, you have to go over the Pitt River Bridge. If you want to go to Langley, you have to go over the Golden Ears Bridge. And if you want come to Abbotsford, you have to go over the Mission Bridge. You’re kind of stuck right up against the mountains.”
There have been so many great golf movies made over the years. What’s your all-time favourite?
“I’m hard-pressed to choose between Happy Gilmore and Caddyshack. Caddyshack is just really stupid – it’s with Bill Murray, and there’s a lot of good one-liners. Happy Gilmore is with Adam Sandler and the other guy – Shooter McGavin, I forget the actor’s name. Again, it’s another really stupid movie. I haven’t seen it in years, actually, but I remember laughing pretty good at it.”
Who’d be in your dream golf foursome? Yourself and three other people, from any walk of life, dead or alive. Who would you pick?
“I’m going to go with Jason Day . . . Phil Mickelson . . . and . . . we’ll go Jesus. Why those three? I’m a huge fan of Phil Mickelson, and Jason Day is playing phenomenal right now. And Jesus is Jesus. I’d love to suck a little bit of knowledge out of that guy!”
Tell me a funny story about your head coach Chris Bertram, aside from the fact he won’t go skydiving with you.
“OK, I’ve got a good one. Chris has this thing on the golf team where there’s fines. If you do something wrong, it’s, ‘Well, that’s $10 into the UFV scholarship fund.’ If you show up late in the morning for a golf tournament, he’s like, ‘You’re a minute late, that’s ridiculous.’ But Chris doesn’t seem to apply all of his own rules (to himself).
“Last year, in Quebec City for nationals, we are all standing in the carport of our hotel ready to go home. It’s after nationals, and we’re all packed and ready to go, ready to catch our flight. No Chris. Aaron (Pauls) and I walk up to the hotel room, knock on Chris’s door. Chris comes to the door, skivvies on. He was sleeping, not ready to go whatsoever, and looks at us like, ‘Oh, are you ready to go?’ That’s what he said. Yeah, Chris – we were ready to go 10 minutes ago.”
So did you enforce the fine?
“We tried really hard to enforce the fine. From then on, every time he says ‘Fine’, we bring that up!
“Oh, and no hot dogs! Chris is a very anti-hot dog guy. If you eat a hot dog wearing a UFV logo, it’s a fine. He says it puts forth a bad image for an athlete, eating a hot dog, and he says they’re just terrible for you.”
Golf nationals is next week. You’ve known for a long time that the Cascades would be hosting that event at Chilliwack Golf Club. Do you feel like a little kid at Christmas? It’s just about here!
“Yes, a little bit. I’m really excited, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. But not that much, because I’ve been so busy I haven’t really had a chance to think about it yet. I think come next week Monday and Tuesday, I’ll feel like a little kid at Christmas – I’ll just want to get it started once the festivities and stuff like that start. But as of now, to be completely honest, I’m focused on writing two more midterms. And I’ve been so focused on the PacWest (tournaments) . . . so I didn’t think about nationals. And now my focus is on school for the next few days. As soon as Thursday afternoon is done and I’m finished that exam, then I’ll be really excited for nationals.”