College bound grandpa can play
It's not unusual when someone from the older generation decides to go back to college but in Don Byers' case it's very unusual.
The 61-year old is not only enrolled for second semester at Bellevue University, he was recruited to play on the Bruins golf team.
"Nobody believes me, they all laugh," said Byers in an interview with WOWT 6 News when asked about his friends reaction. "Then when they find out it's for real they say go on your bucket list, live your dream."
Byers played high school baseball at Omaha Benson in the mid 70's and earned a small college scholarship.
"In college as a pitcher I blew out my arm," explained Byers "That was the end of the scholarship so off I went into the workforce."
That was about forty years ago and over that time Byers built a successful insurance business.
"So I've got a family, a business, and grandkids. It's a little different than your normal college student."
"To have a 61 year old is one thing but to have a 61 year old that can really play is fun," said Bellevue head coach Rob Brown who recruited Byers after a chance round of golf at summer's end.
Byers carries a one handicap and drives the ball far enough to join the other competitors on the back tees. All but one of his teammates were recruited out of Latin America to play for Bellevue University.
"There are only so many spots on the team," said Byers. "I've told them my hay day was 40 years ago, these kids are trying to get to the next level so I really admire them. I'm not trying to steal there press or anything just having a lot of fun with them and hopefully I can help them out."
The contrast is stark between the young twenty-somethings and the gray-bearded Byers.
When asked about the fact his teammates all have flat bellies, Byers responded, "I have five of them."
According to Coach Brown, Bellevue University did some national research and found a college field goal kicker who is a little older than Byers but it's not clear if the kicker actually participated.
"We're going to have a time that is very unique," said Coach Brown. "The other teams going to to wonder what in the world? And that's going to make it fun."
The first tournament for the team is scheduled for Las Vegas in March and there's a good chance Byers will make his debut as a college golfer there. He expects his family, including grandkids to be there cheering him on.
"I'll just have to compete," said Byers who has won club tournaments in the past. "The ball doesn't know who's hitting it, so as long as I tell the ball to do the right thing and it goes in the hole, I'll be competitive."