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Penn State assistant named new APSU golf coach

Kirk Kayden, an assistant coach at Penn State the past three seasons, has been named the new head men's golf coach at Austin Peay.

Kayden replaces Mark Leroux, who left in June to become new head mens golf coach at Missouri.
Kirk Kayden, an assistant coach at Penn State the past three seasons, has been named the new head men's golf coach at Austin Peay.

Kayden replaces Mark Leroux, who left in June to become new head men's golf coach at Missouri.

Kayden, a Fremont, Ohio, native, played an integral part in Penn State's appearance in three straight NCAA regionals, including a 15th-place finish in the NCAA championships this season. He has helped coach Penn State's Athlete of the Year (Andy Latowski in 2001-02), the Big Ten Sportsman of the Year (Jonas Hyden in 2002-03) and an honorable mention All-American (Mark Leon in 2003-04). The Nittany Lions also have had six All-NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region selections during his tenure. Penn State had the program's lowest (2002-03) and second-lowest (2001-02) scoring averages with Kayden's assistance.

“Kirk is a guy who was involved in all aspects of a very successful, a nationally ranked program at Penn State,” APSU Athletics Director Dave Loos says. “And so many people we talked to—his peers in particular—believed he was ready to take the next step, to be in charge of his own program.

“He comes with a reputation as a tireless recruiter—he was heavily involved in recruiting at Penn State—and he comes from an athletic program where NCAA compliance and academics are of the highest priority. He is a very likable guy who has great character. I believe he will get along well in the community and with our supporters.”

Kayden will take over a program that also has enjoyed outstanding success. Playing with a freshmen-dominated lineup a year ago, the Govs saw their Ohio Valley Conference championship (and accompanying NCAA Regional appearance) win streak end at three. But that freshmen class was ranked as high as second in the nation after winning three fall tourneys a year ago. Kayden is ready to put his knowledge and coaching skills to work with his still-young team.

“I add a little different touch in the way the guys are going to approach the golf course and preparation to the golf tournaments we play in,” Kayden says. “Management is going to be important—how they manage the course. There also will be a huge emphasis on the short game—their ability to get the ball up and make putts.

“Preparation is vital, being prepared for all these tournaments we are playing in. We have an outstanding schedule this fall, playing at Southern Miss, Louisville, Tennessee, Missouri and our home event (Precept Intercollegiate)—I am looking forward to that also. This is going to be a fun ride.”

Kayden was an outstanding prep golfer at Fremont St. Joseph's. In 1991, he won the Division III Ohio High School Golf Championship and was voted the Ohio High School Golfer of the Year for his outstanding play and overall sportsmanship.

Kayden then signed to play his college golf at Toledo, one of the mid-east's top Division I golf programs, where he was coached by John Jasinski, now Notre Dame's head coach. He was a three-year letterman for the Rockets, including winning the Ohio Collegiate Classic as a junior.

Ater graduating in 1997 with a bachelor's in sports management, Kayden worked as an assistant golf professional and a substitute teacher. During this time, Kayden was asked to run the high school golf program at Central Columbia High School, where he became interested in coaching. After one year at Central Columbia, Kayden was selected to start the golf program at Terra Community College, also in Fremont.

In the first year of the program, the team advanced to the National Junior College Collegiate Regional Tournament. During Kayden's three years at Terra he coached three all-region academic players and three all-conference players.

In 2001, Kayden was hired by Greg Nye to become Penn State's assistant. Nye, former head coach at Bowling Green, had recruited Kayden out of high school.
—Brad Kirtley