Men’s Golf head coach Gary Bissell adds former player to coaching staff, prepares for incoming freshmen


Graduate Michell White follows through on a drive. White has recently decided to stay with Laker golf by taking on a position as a Student Assistant Coach. COURTESY | GREG RUFF

Sean Cauvet, Staff Reporter

In May, the Grand Valley State Men’s Golf team finished 11th at the Division II NCAA Tournament in West Virginia. This year, Head Coach Gary Bissell and former player Mitchell White look to improve on that finish and say that the team will be different.

“Last year we had an older core of Bryce (Messner), Alex (Scott) and me,” White said. “We were all seniors and had a lot of experience. This year, there are four talented freshman coming in, so it will be a much more inexperienced team, but with great potential.”

One of those four freshmen, Charles DeLong, can’t wait for the 2019 men’s golf season.

“I’ve been practicing a lot with Alex Jordan, Drew Coble and Nick Kruger, the other incoming freshmen,” DeLong said. “I’m excited to get out there and see how good we can be.”

The golfer that DeLong looks to model his GVSU career after is recently graduated Laker Alex Scott.

“The way he spent four years golfing at Grand Valley and then went pro definitely makes me excited about being a Laker,” DeLong said.

Entering his sixth season as Head Coach of the GVSU Men’s Golf team, Gary Bissell is fresh off being named Golf Pride Grips Midwest Coach of the Year.

To accommodate the talented incomers, Bissell says he is shaking things up a little bit.

“We have a different team this year than we had last year,” Bissell said. “Last year, we had a veteran and experienced team. This year we’ve got a young and inexperienced team, although talented. This year, the big thing is that I changed the schedule a little bit to hopefully make the learning process as easy as possible for our younger players. On top of that, we’re going to be focused on growth this year and trying to develop our young talent the best that we can.”

Bissell has led GVSU to two GLIAC Championships, but doesn’t like to obsess over results.

“We’ve never been ultra-focused on wins and losses here, we think that’s a byproduct of doing the right things,” Bissell said. “We just focus on the process and trying to get better every day with the idea that those things, those wins will come with that.”

White, who recently graduated, has decided to stick around as a Student Assistant Coach.

“Coach Bissell and I have a great relationship, and I think that I can help the younger players as someone that has been through it all in my four years here,” White said.

“When Mitchell was a freshman, he was actually a major hothead,” Bissell said. “A club slammer, a bag slammer and didn’t have a great temperament. Part of that was getting older and maturing, but a lot of it was a good effort on his part to recognize those things and realize that they weren’t benefitting him. Obviously his temper comes from a good place, a will to compete and a desire to do well, but I think he’s grown up and realized the ‘extracurricular activities’, let’s call them, don’t help you in any way.”

Part of the reason it was hard for White to adjust was because that’s what he grew up around.

“Everyone in my high school played emotional and got angry, but not to the level that I did,” White said. “As I got older, I saw that it was almost embarrassing, and it would be a split-second thing where something would happen and then I’d look around and I’d remind myself that now I’m representing a university and team that I love and my family. As you get older, you realize that it’s not going to help you.”

Once White was able to calm himself down and focus on the process that Bissell talked about, the results came along with it. White was named a 2018-2019 Scholar All-American, an award that recognizes players that exemplify the term “student-athlete”.

“I always thought I wasn’t good in the classroom and was only going to be a good athlete, but I started to realize that hard work can take you everywhere in not only athletics, but schoolwork, family life and anything else,” White said. “If you would’ve told coach Bissell or my mom that I would be a Scholar All-American my senior year, they would’ve laughed you out of the room. It’s definitely something I’m going to hang my hat on and am very fortunate to have.”

Transitioning to the coaching side of golf, White is excited for the challenge and what it could mean for his future.

“Talking about things I want to do in the future, coaching is very intriguing to me,” White said. “I’m counting down the days and I’m excited to be on the other side of the ball. I’m most excited about these incoming freshmen because they are more talented coming in than Bryce, Alex and I were. I want to be an open door for them and help them in any way I can.”

The new-look GVSU Men’s Golf team starts its season September 9 at the Don Underwood Invitational at the Meadows Golf Course.