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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Journey 21

(Photo courtesy of Sheila Frisinger.)

Matt Frisinger and his friends may not be on the official Marquette golf roster, but they are squad members nonetheless.

It started with a call between Frisingers’ mom, Sheila, and Marquette head coach Steve Bailey, inquiring about creating an environment where Matt and his friends could golf with their peers with no competitive edge attached.

“I called Steve and said, ‘I would love to be able to start something where we could have this peer mentoring. It would give our young adults an opportunity for social engagement and allow them to do what they love: play golf. Steve thought about it for literally a minute and wanted to get involved,'” Sheila said.

The Frisinger family is one of the founding members of Journey 21, a  501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity organization that provides safe, supportive and enriching living and learning options for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities in Waukesha County and surrounding communities.

Journey 21’s goal is to provide a community for people with IDDs after the high school transitional programs are used to their full extent. Upon completion, the community will house 44 people and offer job opportunities in Oconomowoc, WI. 

“They share a passion for the game and there is no great outlet for adults with disabilities to go out and compete. So we wanted to partner with the Frisinger family,” Bailey said.

The team has met with Journey 21 on several occasions.

The Golden Eagles first brought program members out to Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin to play a practice round with the team before their tournament the weekend of Sept. 3.

Sheila said that the event had a significant impact on the program.

“The team could have used that time to work on their game, but they decided to include us in that practice round. It was a wonderful opportunity for the participants, including my son Matt. One of them said that it was a chance of a lifetime for them,” Sheila said.

Matt said he had a ton of fun playing with the college players. 

“I liked riding in the golf cart and playing with the guys on the team,” Matt said. “They helped coach me and helped with my game.”

Then, the team invited the group to the University Club of Milwaukee, the team’s practice course, for a nine-hole round on a short game course. Journey 21 members also got to cheer the team on at their intercollegiate tournament at the Milwaukee Country Club Oct. 2-3.

Sophomore Max Lyons said that Journey 21’s support has benefited the team in multiple ways.

“It was cool seeing those guys at our home event at Milwaukee Country Club. It has allowed us to take our minds off the tournament and reflect on the bigger picture and what matters,” Lyons said.

Bailey said working with Journey 21 has impacted his team and those they’re working with through the lessons they are taught.

“Some of the people that are coming out playing with us, it doesn’t matter if they have a four or a ten on the hole; they’re happy to be out there,” Bailey said. “It gives our guys a great perspective for their games to see the joy regardless of the score on the card.”

Lyons said that he has widened his perspective on the bigger picture.

“We FaceTime them at tournaments and text back and forth before and after rounds. All of us know that we’re playing for something bigger than ourselves. It’s not ultimately about golf; it’s about sharing relationships with them and seeing how we can pour and invest in them. Our whole team culture has shifted to cater to those guys and do what we can to make them feel like part of the team,” Lyons said.

Matt, who works at the Naga Waukee Golf Course in the summer, said his favorite part about working with the team is being able to fire the team up.

“I tell them to play hard, stay focused and have fun,” Matt said.

The benefits that her son Matt has been able to receive from this partnership is more than Frisinger could have imagined. 

“The relationships he has built with the team are the most meaningful part of this experience. Golf is just an additional benefit to what we have with Marquette,” Frisinger said. “Matt talks about his Marquette golf friends every day. Opportunities like this disappear after high school, and it is great to have this continuation of inclusion and building relationships with his peers, who are now his mentors.”

This story was written by Trevor Hilson. He can be reached at [email protected], or @hilsontrevor on Twitter.

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About the Contributor
Trevor Hilson
Trevor Hilson, Sports Audio Producer
Trevor Hilson is from Muskegon, Michigan and he is a journalism major. He is the Sports Audio Producer for the 2023-24 school year. In his free time, he plays a lot of golf and gives lessons to his friends. He is excited for the national championship banner going into the Fiserv rafters for men's hoops at the start of next season.

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