Smith traded time on the turf for Ryder Cup internship

The redshirt senior was an operator’s assistant during the fall event in Chaska.

Redshirt Junior Jordan Smith prepares to hit a pitch during the weekend series against Maryland at Siebert Field on April 17, 2016.

Sam Harper, Daily File Photo

Redshirt Junior Jordan Smith prepares to hit a pitch during the weekend series against Maryland at Siebert Field on April 17, 2016.

Tommy Sletten

The University of Minnesota baseball team has most recently been celebrated for its on-field successes.

But what isn’t always seen is the work that goes into making the Gophers successful people beyond the record books — something head coach John Anderson said is a priority.

“This experience is about learning and growth. Part of my philosophy is preparing people for the next 50 years of their lives,” Anderson said.

Take, for example, outfielder Jordan Smith.

The redshirt senior was allowed to miss part of offseason training to participate in an internship with the Ryder Cup — a professional golf tournament that pits teams from Europe and the United States against each other — which was held in the Twin Cities last fall.

Smith worked as an operator’s assistant during the event and helped do the behind-the-scenes work to make the tournament a success.

He was responsible for maintenance, painting and setting up the eight miles of fencing, among other tasks.

“I was fortunate enough to do it in the summer and the fall,” Smith said. “[Anderson] let me skip fall ball to do it.”

Smith said he enjoyed the opportunity so much that he hopes to turn it into a career.

The sports management major will graduate in the spring and said he may consider working with the Professional Golf Association once his baseball career is over.

“I love playing golf; I play probably two or three times a week during the summer when I can,” Smith said. “I wanted to be part of a good, reputable organization in the sports industry, and I think the PGA obviously has that. I think doing the Ryder Cup helped a lot.”

The Eden Prairie, Minnesota native also sees his time being a student-athlete as valuable to his career after baseball.

In addition to being one of Minnesota’s most consistent players, Smith has been named Academic All-Big Ten in each of his seasons at Minnesotal.

“Not many kids get the chance to be a student-athlete here- to get a good education,” Smith said. “So I think, being here for four or five years now, what I’ve learned, and how I have grown as a person will help me in the future.”

Fall ball is an important part of any college team’s regimen, and missing it doesn’t happen often.

But for Anderson, personal growth endeavors are just as important to him in developing his players.

“He had an opportunity to do an internship at the Ryder Cup that I thought would be more important to him than coming out and playing baseball in terms of the next 50 years of his life,” Anderson said. “Plus, he’s a fifth-year senior; how many more swings does he need to take? Jordan knows how to play baseball.”