Imagine moving across the world to follow a dream that you have. This can be a scary and daunting task for many. However, this did not scare freshman Cedric Otten from chasing his goals on the green.
Cedric grew up in Dusseldorf, Germany playing tennis and golf. Eventually time came to choose which path he would go down and he made the decision to play golf. However, this came with much scrutiny in his hometown as he was a young athlete playing golf and not soccer.
“In Germany everyone thinks you are just running around in a cart,” Otten said. “It is a sport for old people, and no one of the younger age cares about it because it is all about soccer. Maybe you could get away with handball or tennis but definitely not golf. Even if you told someone you are playing golf, they will usually laugh about it and say why are you playing golf. You are young and can play that when you are sixty or seventy something.”
Despite the poor reception of being a golfer Otten stuck with his passion and worked hard performing well in the young circuit in Germany and catching the eye of Coach Carstens at the University of North Alabama.
“The main struggle with recruiting Cedric was distance,” Carstens said. “I couldn’t just go and watch him play in Birmingham like I could with a local player. He was recommended to me by someone over there who knows a lot about junior players and I trust very highly. After scouting him and liking what we saw I started to video chat him and his family and give them a run down of our university such as cost and majors that we offer. After we got to know him well, he and his father came over for a tour and I think that is when he fell in love with Florence and knew it would be a good fit for him.”
Otten is one of many players at North Alabama who comes from overseas to play collegiate sports in the United States. The University believes there are talented players from all over the world who thanks to their passion for more than just the sport, but also their education provides strong student athletes to their rosters while also exposing the local talent to a new way of life that would come from a player from overseas.
However, taking the leap of faith was just the first part in Otten’s journey he still had to acclimate himself into society in Florence, Ala. while also proving himself on the trails.
“Studying another language is not very easy for me,” Otten said. “Also, the food is completely different. Pretty much everything is fried and not as healthy for me.”
Despite these setbacks Otten still has performed at a high level. He along with senior Jackson Wedgeworth lead the team in stroke average for the season. Making Cedric one of the best performers on the team. However, his best performance came in February when the team traveled to California for the Orange County Collegiate Classic. In that match Otten finished tied for ninth place finishing just six over par.
Otten has put in a great deal of work since being on the Lion’s campus and Carstens agrees.
“Well he has come in as a freshman and he had great finishes all over Europe coming in,” Carstens said. “I fully expected him to come in our lineup and help out. There is an adjustment period when you are away from home and you are getting used to the courses, school, and just everything else and he handled that well and since then his golf has started to get a little bit better each week, but the thing I tell our guys is improvement is not just a straight slope. There might be some times where it spikes up really great then it dips just a little bit before gradually getting better and better. He is kind of going through that right now, but I have no doubts that by the time he graduates from here he will be a phenomenal player. He just has such ability and passion for the game that I think he will continue to improve and be a real helpful presence for us for sure.”
While Otten has shown great improvement in his game the golf team is more than just a solo sport. However, he brings more than just good solo performances he also increases team morale and play across the board. When asked to explain what Cedric brings to the table junior Dakota Terry had this to say.
“I think him being from Germany with a different culture really helps us,” Terry said. “ It is better than having one mindset on the team. For example, he is really into fitness and working out and I think he helps us make healthier choices when we are on the road eating. Not to mention he is a pretty funny guy.”
When asked a similar question senior Jackson Wedgeworth stated, “I think his extra confidence allows us to rely on him to have a good game which is huge for our ability to go out as a team and perform knowing that he will do the same for us.”
The largest take away from all of this is that Cedric Otten is a young talent that brings a fire and determination to the golf team that really changes the team’s overall performance. His competitive spirit and healthy habits improve the team’s overall performance while he brings a solid strong performance match after match that allows his teammates to feel comfortable in their own performances knowing that Cedric will perform at his absolute best.
Throughout the rest of this season Cedric Otten and the Lions men’s golf team will play in tournaments in West Point, Miss., and right here in the Shoals at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Muscle Shoals, Ala. on Monday March 23, and Tuesday March 24. Their season will conclude on April 21 in Braselton, Ga. at the ASUN championship.