Student-Athlete Feature: Jackson Rader


Jackson Rader, a sophomore at FHSU majoring in Finance, is originally from Marysville, KS. Rader is also a golfer for the Fort Hays State University Men’s Golf team.

Rader’s love for golf developed at an early age when his grandpa moved out by a golf course and took him golfing for the first time when he was around 13 years old.

“After that day, I fell in love,” Rader said. “My older brother and I would play constantly after that, playing 36 holes in the summer and playing when it was 30 degrees in the winter. My grandpa started it all for me and I am really glad he and my brother got me on the golf course.”

Rader’s passion for the sport only grew as he got older. Now, his favorite aspect of golf is being around his teammates that are all set out to accomplish the same goal.

“I love going on road trips with the guys. Every guy on the team I consider my best friend. Playing in competitions is also so much fun, especially when you are playing well,” he said. “I love cheering for the guys and I can’t wait until after the round when we all go to eat and talk about how we played on the course and just joke around with each other.”

Rader also finds joy in his involvement on campus as a part of the FHSU intramural staff and as an active participant in the Hays community as an official for football and basketball.

“I really like officiating the kids and it is a good source of extra income,” he said. 

Although Rader thoroughly enjoys all that he is able to do at FHSU, he makes sure to mention that it is sometimes stressful to balance work, classes and golf.

“I like to get assignments done before time in an attempt to not have to stress about them on the golf course. Most of my professors are very understanding and that helps me a lot,” Rader said. “I usually do all my homework in the evening or after I get back from officiating. When I am working during the season, I have to cut practice time out as I am traveling around to officiate.”

Rader continues along that line with a few struggles that he tends to have to face as being stressed out and anxious. 

“Golf is a mentally taxing sport and it is extremely difficult if you are struggling on the course,” he said. “I feel that when I do not perform as I want to, it affects my mood and isn’t great for my well-being. Of course, this holds true for the opposite. When I am performing well, it makes me extremely happy. I do get overwhelmed quite often, but I am very optimistic about things. Most things always work themselves out. I have been better at not getting overwhelmed as I have started finishing assignments before we leave for competitions.”

Rader then goes on to explain how lifting weights serves as his main coping mechanism for this stress.

“I lift weights five to six times a week. I have also changed my diet and that has helped tremendously,” he said. “I have just started writing a journal and reading books to help keep my mind off things and just to keep up to date with my mental health as well.”

Rader wants to thank his teammates for their support and mentions one teammate in particular.

“The guys on the team work extremely hard and the relationships I have built with the guys are unmatched. I would also like to thank someone specific on our team, Bryce Cowan, as he is a fifth-year senior and has made a huge impact on the Fort Hays Golf program. Bryce is the epitome of being a hard worker and a good person,” Rader said. “I look up to him tremendously.”

Although scheduling conflicts between school, work, and sports frequently pop up for Rader, he believes that this has proved as one of the most beneficial parts of being a student-athlete as he has learned to manage things a lot better.

“I used to be a big procrastinator in high school, but now I feel that I have changed that because I do not want to be stressed out on the golf course,” he said. 

Another benefit that Rader highlights is the opportunity to hang out and meet all new friends that enjoy the same things as you and to get the chance to do that enjoyable thing together as friends as well as competitors. 

“The guys that I have met will be my lifelong friends. The connections you make with people because you are an athlete is life-changing,” he said. “It is also a big advantage to get to play golf every day at the golf course and keeps me constantly busy instead of sitting around my apartment.”

Next year, Rader has huge expectations for himself.

“My goals for this next season are to earn All-Conference honors, make regionals and nationals, have a scoring average of 74 or better, and win a tournament,” he said. “For all upcoming seasons, I want to have the lowest scoring average in Fort Hays golf history and I would like to be known as the best golfer to come through Hays.”