Alivia Nguyen and Taryn Torgerson: Special bond between player and coach

Feb 03, 2022
Newman golf coach Taryn Torgerson talks with freshman Alivia Nguyen

Taryn Torgerson has always been a high achiever.

She earned two state golf championships in high school and two conference individual titles in college. She also excelled in the classroom at both levels and later this month she will be inducted into the Buhler High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Torgerson won the 2018 American Athletic Conference individual women’s golf title, Image courtesy Wichita State University

Despite her considerable acumen on and off the course, Torgerson wasn’t even thinking about recruiting the first time she met Alivia Nguyen, a current first-year member of the Newman University women’s golf team.

It wasn’t a rare blunder or lack of vision for the talented Torgerson.

How it started

You see, recruiting wasn’t exactly on her mind during that first encounter. Nguyen was just 11 years old when she showed up at Terradyne Country Club in Andover, Kansas, where Torgerson was practicing as a then-freshman collegiate athlete herself for Wichita State.

Taryn Torgerson (left) and Alivia Nguyen (right) first met years prior to either joining the Newman Golf program

That initial encounter made an impact on Nguyen.

“I remember she came up to me and talked to me when I was practicing and I thought that was neat that a college golfer is talking to a little kid. She was always so nice and encouraging. It was great as a little kid to have someone like that to look up to.”

Torgerson got to know her future player through a series of meetings while she was working with her swing coach Josh Cook, who also coached Nguyen for a while.

“I would be at the facility practicing or getting lessons and Alivia’s parents would drop her and her little brother off there to practice almost every day. I would play putting contests with her, and we’d play golf together all the time,” Torgerson said.

Alivia Nguyen and Taryn Torgerson on Newman University campus

After being named the Newman women’s golf coach in 2019, Torgerson suddenly turned her focus to recruiting and Nguyen was one of the first people that came to mind.

“I had gotten to know her and got to see her practice and work so hard at the game from such an early age. Kids that dedicated and passionate about a sport that young just isn’t something you see every day.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude that Alivia chose to come to Newman and play for me. We have one of the most special bonds as a coach and player of anyone I have coached before and that stems from our relationship that started so many years ago. She makes me a better coach and supports her teammates in the best ways,” Torgerson said.

How it’s going

Nguyen is one of five freshmen on the seven-member Jets 2021-22 women’s golf team. She chose Newman for many reasons but her relationship with Torgerson is at the top of her list.

Newman University freshman Alivia Nguyen
Alivia Nguyen

“I discovered Newman through friends and relatives. Newman is a good fit for me because I like the small school environment and everyone is very nice and helpful. Coach Taryn was the other big factor because I wanted to be a part of her golf team. I have a great relationship with Coach Taryn because while others may only know Coach Taryn as their coach, I have gotten the privilege to know her on a personal level and see her also as a friend,” Nguyen said.

The third-year Jet coach is excited to see Nguyen grow in her young collegiate career.

“It is awesome and I am so proud of her. She has always been a hard worker and very passionate about the game from a young age and that is why she is here playing college golf at this level. She is a special kid and does everything the right way. She exemplifies everything I want in a player in my program,” Torgerson said.

High school history

Nguyen brings impressive prep credentials with her to Newman. Playing for Andover High School, she was a four-time state qualifier and three-time state medalist, as well as a league champion in 2018. Nguyen finished top-five in nine of her 10 tournaments her senior season and earned all-state honors finishing tied for fourth at the 2020 5A Kansas State Championships.

“I’ve been playing golf since I was 5 years old, just loved the game ever since,” Nguyen said.  “Golf has been a key factor in my life. It seems like everything rotates around my love for the game. It has also taught me life lessons and connected me to wonderful people.”

Nguyen is driven, caring and fun

Her college coach believes her star recruit possesses what it takes to be successful on the college level.

“Driven, caring and fun. She is the core of our team and brings everyone together. She is selfless and cares so deeply about everyone around her and makes every moment fun while never losing sight of her goals and what she wants to achieve,” Torgerson said.

2021-2022 Newman University Women's Golf Team
Members of the 2021-2022 Newman University women’s golf team

Nguyen carries those attributes with her in every endeavor on and off the course. The business management major is involved in the Asian Student Association organization and out in the community she is part of the Veterans Outreach Program which feeds the homeless. She also volunteers at the Lord’s Diner.

“My dream job would be somewhere that my skills would be needed and I could make a difference in people’s lives,” Nguyen explained.

And, she believes her school and her experience as a collegiate athlete help her get there some day.

“I am so glad I picked Newman and I’m very grateful to be part of the Newman golf team!”

Nguyen and fellow freshman Felisa Sajulga (right)

2021-22 Women’s Golf

Newman University will play host to the 2022 MIAA Championships April 21-23.