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Feb. 20, 2003

CHARLOTTESVILLE- Student Athlete-of-the-Month showcases athletes who have demonstrated excellence both on the playing field and in the classroom. The February Male Student Athlete-of-the-Month, fourth-year Thomas Lee, has displayed a strong work ethic in his academic and athletic endeavors. An Economics major from Guttenberg, NJ, Lee discusses his decision to transfer to UVa and adjusting to his new surroundings.

Q: How old were you when you began playing golf and what made you want to play?

A: My dad got me started when I was 11 years old. I remember following him when he played and got addicted to the sport. Shortly thereafter, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Just the competitive nature and the calmness I felt playing golf got my career started in this game.

Q: You attended East Tennessee State through your sophomore year, correct? What made you want to transfer to UVa?

A: Yes, I attended ETSU for two years before transferring to UVA. There are a myriad of reasons why I transferred. But most importantly, it was what UVA had to offer as a whole that decided my transition. Some things that influenced my decision include the balance between academics and athletics, the diversity, proximity to home, and most importantly, Coach Moraghan. It’s funny that you asked because I played with coach when I was 13 years old during a US Open qualifying round. We’ve kept in touch ever since and I asked him about the move. I got to know him pretty well and he welcomed me with open arms. I have no regrets.

Q: What, would you say, is the biggest difference between UVa and East Tennessee State?

A: The biggest difference is the diversity. Everyday I meet or see someone from all over the world. My roommates are British, Korean, and American. It’s fascinating to learn about the different cultures and lifestyle.

Q: Now that you’re a Cavalier, what do you like best about UVa?

A: Everything. From the school itself, the friends that I’ve made, and attending other events such as football and basketball games. I’m having a blast!

Q: How has your golfing changed since becoming a member of the Virginia Golf team?

A: I’ve improved a lot since I got here. I’ve developed both mentally and physically and all the credit goes to coach and my teammates. We’re a close knit group and after traveling on the road almost every other week during season, you get see how much each guy is pulling for you. The bonds that we’ve made are unique and I know we’ll remain friends after graduation.

Q: How do you balance your golf schedule and schoolwork?

A: Well it’s a lot tougher to multi-task here than at my previous school. The work is a lot more rigorous so I had to learn immediately how to balance both. I usually do my schoolwork and attend classes in the morning so I can practice and play during the afternoon. So when I get home at night I can just eat and relax. And if I have more work to do, I go over it before bed.

Q: Who has made the biggest impact in your life and why?

A: My pops. Without question, he has been my role model and mentor. Ever since day one, he has always been there for me whether it’s about school, golf, or life. We have a strong relationship and we both earned each other’s respect and trust. Whenever I have a question, he stops whatever he’s doing and gives me the utmost attention. I owe a whole lot of gratitude to him and I’ll pay him back one day.

Q: What are your plans for after graduation?

A: After graduation, I plan to play in some amateur tournaments during the summer. Depending on how I progress, I’ll hopefully turn pro in the fall of ’03 right before the PGA TOUR Qualifying school.

Q: And, finally, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

A: What free time? Seriously, if I have free time, I’m either at the gym, going to basketball or football games, watching TV, or hanging out with my best friend here, Richard.

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