The Dalles High School’s senior class features a handful of student-athletes who will continue their careers at the collegiate level.
Tyler Vassar is part of this group that is breaking down the barriers for many boys and girls coming up through the ranks.
Vassar received a scholarship to play golf at North Idaho College (NIC) in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and is set to major in engineering.
“A lot of other students from here are going to college for sports and being a part of that is definitely very meaningful,” Vassar said. “This has been a pretty successful year and it is great to see more of us from The Dalles getting exposure. Some may think college is not an option, but we are showing that there are great students and athletes at our school.”
In his career, Vassar tallied eight medalist titles, had two top-10 state finishes, and as a sophomore, he played a big part in helping The Dalles boys golf team to its best state outcome in program history, second place.
All those positive memories will be his driving force at the collegiate level.
“I feel very satisfied with my time here and what I accomplished,” Vassar said. “I put in a bunch of work to get where I wanted, and I got out of it what I put in. There were some shots that I left on the table, but you cannot regret anything. If you think about those shots you missed and everything, you are never going to move on and play well at other tournaments. Having that mindset is a big reason for my success in high school.”
At state this past May, Vassar showed a two-shot improvement and ended up in an eighth-place tie with a 152 at the 5A state championships at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis.
While Vassar had his best showing on par-5s, where he shot a four-under, on par-4s, the senior was at a plus-12, and he shot a plus-2 on par-3s, adding six birdies and 16 pars.
Vassar’s teammate, Aidan Telles, will be a senior next year and soaked in everything he could to make himself a better player.
“Tyler is an amazing teammate and friend that I’m really going to miss,” Telles said. “He was a vital part of this team and I’m going to miss him because he was always there, whether I needed help with my swing, or I just needed a good laugh to make my day.”
Vassar joins a program, coached by Russell Grove, that won the 2018-2019 NWAC Championship on May 20 to make it three team conference championships in a row.
NIC loses four sophomores and have five freshmen slated to return, which makes it an open competition ahead of next season.
The onus is on Vassar to stay on his work schedule to make the top 5 starters for every tournament next season.
“There are 10 guys on the team who can shoot under par on any given day, so making the starting five will be accomplishment in and of itself,” Vassar said. “As far as the game plan, our coach told us that we all have the talent to transfer to Div. I school if we put in the time and the effort every single day, so it will come down to a balance between schoolwork, plus playing. I have never had that heavy of a course load/practice schedule in high school, so I am not really used to that. But I hope to develop a routine to help my work as well as bettering my golf game.”
In taking that next step in terms of skill set and results, Vassar has gone through the school of hard knocks, especially with the weather conditions he has endured through his four-year golf career.
He’s played in rain, sleet, snow, wind and scorching heat.
Those experiences should pay dividends down the road.
“I definitely learned my tendencies and what the golf ball does in certain situations by playing in wind all my life,” Vassar said. “Playing in the rain and bad conditions, I am more experienced than I ever was.
“During the summer, the conditions are good, but in spring, it is a whole different ball game and your whole game changes. I feel prepared on how to deal with it, and I just need to be more focused on what it will take to keep this going.”
Ryan Vassar said that NIC is getting an athlete who practiced at The Dalles Country Club from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the summer from an early age.
“It has taken a lot of practice for him to get to this point,” Ryan said. “NIC is getting a kid that works really hard, strives to meet goals and is a good kid.
“I am sure the amount of work he puts in at college will be much different than here, but I know he will do what it takes to continue to play at a higher level.”