SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. - With the 2011 BIG EAST Golf Championships in Palm Harbor, Fla. just a few days away, the Seton Hall men's team is prepared to be joined by the year-old women's program for the first time in school history. Senior Colin Van Es, playing in his fourth and final conference championship, will keep an even closer eye on his female counterparts than most - his younger sister, freshman Haley Van Es, will also be representing the Pirates on the links.
Seton Hall will be the only school at the BIG EAST Championship with a brother-sister combination competing. It will serve as the finishing touch on what has already been a memorable season for the Van Es siblings, who hail from Granger, Ind.
"Being able to share this special year in my life with my sister has made it all that much better," said Colin. "After being 700 miles from home for three years it has been great to have a family member so close. I hope I made Haley's transition into college a bit easier because I know that she has certainly made this year much more special for me."
The younger Van Es holds similar sentiments to those of her elder brother. "Especially being so far from home, it's nice to know that I have family here at school with me," Haley said. "Colin has been a good influence and very helpful this year, and I'm grateful for that."
Head men's golf coach Clay White played a key role in getting the siblings on campus. "I remember meeting Haley on Colin's recruiting trip," said White. "We talked about how it was too bad that there wasn't a women's team at Seton Hall as well."
"When the program was added last year, she was the first one I called."
As the search for a women's coach progressed, White put together the first recruiting class so the eventual hire would hit the ground running. Haley chose to join her brother at Seton Hall, turning what was once only a dream into reality.
With his sister on board, Colin has put the finishing touches on a stellar career for the Pirates that includes four top-10 finishes. Haley, meanwhile, has played some of her best golf as of late with five straight rounds in the eighties, and her stroke average has improved by four from the fall to the spring season.
Time moves quickly on a college campus, and the year shared by Colin and Haley in South Orange is approaching its conclusion. The BIG EAST Championship remains, however, making it a time for both anticipation and reflection.
"I know that Haley has appreciated having her brother here at Seton Hall to help her transition into collegiate golf," said women's head coach Sara Doell. "It's thrilling for us to have both of them representing the Pirates this week at the Big East Championships."
"I'm excited for Colin," White added. "He was a recruit that helped change our program and take us to the next level, so I hope he finishes strong. Colin played well at last year's BIG EAST Championship and I'd love to see him do even better as a senior."
The family affair will extend beyond just the siblings when competition begins. "Our parents are planning on making the trip to Florida, and being able to spend my last BIG EAST Championship with my family will be a wonderful way for me to go out at Seton Hall," Colin said.
Haley, too, appreciates the unusual opportunity being afforded to the Van Es clan. "It would be special even if we were both there with different schools, but the fact that we both get to be out on the course representing Seton Hall makes it even more memorable."
An already strong family bond has been further solidified by a truly special year spent together at Seton Hall by Colin and Haley.
"I am tremendously proud of both Haley's and my accomplishments over our careers that have created this awesome opportunity for us," Colin closed. "I am even more grateful for the sacrifices that our family has made to create it. So much focus is put on our accomplishments, but without our parents, we would not even have the chance to share this experience together."