Alumni Feature - Tommy Hearden '14
Tommy (Thomas) Hearden ’14 (Marketing) has always been a sports enthusiast and a golf devotee. He grew up around golf courses because of his Dad’s job and always knew he wanted to play in college. During his freshman year, the golf team won their first-ever conference, which brought the team closer together.
“I met some of my best friends on that team, who I am lucky to still call my best friends today,” Tommy reflects.
Tommy was doing great in golf, but in every sport or even life in general, there are setbacks. Tommy’s was his shoulder injury. While in high school, Tommy tore his labrum in his shoulder. Instead of getting surgery right away, he did physical therapy and played through the pain. He played two years of golf at Lewis before he decided to have the surgery.
“It was the toughest decision I had ever had to make at that point in my life” he says. “I played the entire fall season my junior year and was a solid part of the team. So to make this decision, I felt like I was letting them down and almost giving up.”
While some may let their academics fall behind because of an injury, as a testament to his character, Tommy used this setback as a teaching moment.
“When I look back at it now,” he says, “there is no doubt I made the right decision not just for personal well-being but because it taught me how to be a leader not just on the course, but off of it as well. Though I wasn’t able to impact the team by playing golf, I was able to show up to workouts at 6 am during the winter and push our team and then show up at tournaments and support them, cheer them on, and be a mentor for the younger guys on the team. I grew up a lot during the 6-month long recovery process. My injury taught me a lot about school as well. The reality is, you can’t always play a sport your whole life. You have to have a work-life balance, and put in the hard work in school.” Through his injury, Tommy was able to become an even greater leader for his team. He also had a renewed focus and shifted his attention to school and life after college.
During his recovery time Tommy started working with Professor Bergman in the College of Business. Bergman became his mentor and helped him prepare for graduation and life after college.
“That year I really got to know my professors,” Tommy says, “Professor Bergman taught me that in order to progress in your career, you need to make a good first impression. That starts with a good resume, so we knuckled down and really worked on mine- which I still use today! I’m really grateful for Professor Bergman and I know if I needed anything I can always reach out to him.”
With Bergman’s support, and an entire team beside him, Tommy was ready for life after college. What at first seemed to be a devastating injury that would prevent him from pursuing golf turned out to be a blessing in disguise, pushing Tommy to a new level of determination, leadership, and forward thinking.
“When I first came to Lewis I didn't know anyone, but it was a fresh start and I made new friends. Being a part of a team helped me develop who I am. I felt prepared and ready for a new adventure once I graduated.”
And on to new adventures Tommy went! Two weeks after graduation, he was off to Arizona to work in a golf course management company. Shortly after starting there he got into the marketing side of things. He worked at the golf resort doing social media and digital marketing management. He then went into the sales side and through great connections, he has now found a new path at Nicklaus Design as a business development associate. He will be leveraging partnerships, and building new relationships within the United States to find golf courses around the country who may be looking renovate or redesign their course. Nicklaus Design is regarded worldwide as the leader in Golf Course Design with over 415 courses worldwide. With it being a small company, Tommy is looking forward to “learning all the aspects of the business and growing within the company.” This job will also give him the opportunity to travel abroad and explore the international side of golf as well.
Tommy's advice to others is this: “Follow your gut, and don't worry so much about how it's going to end up. If it’s something that interests you, try it. It's not always going to work out, but failure is okay because that's how you learn. Also, lean on others. It's not what you know, it’s who you know – make connections and lean on your mentors to help you make decisions.”