Matias Chiappero left behind his hometown in Argentina to join GC’s men’s golf team as a redshirt freshman in 2015. Now in his senior year, Chiappero is highly regarded by his coach and teammates as an outstanding example of a student-athlete and overcomer of adversity.
Born in Paraná, Chiappero moved to Rafaela at four years old and grew up playing tennis and soccer. It was not until 16 years old when Chiappero branched over to a small local golf course, where he quickly fell in love with the sport, unknowingly on the edge of a huge turning point in his life.
Playing in a tournament, Chiappero was approached by a player from UGA men’s golf team, who told him he should
come to the U.S. and get a degree while playing college golf.
“I had never considered it,” Chiappero said. “It was never an option to me, and I didn’t know anybody to ever do it before me. After the tournament I went home and started Googling stuff. I knew nothing about D2, D1, the whole NCAA thing.”
With his family in full support, Chiappero moved to the U.S. and began his life as a student-athlete at GC, where he was tasked with balancing a position on the golf team while earning a degree in business administration and accounting.
Head coach of GC’s men’s golf team Patrick Garrett leads his team with high standards for the duality of being a student-athlete.
“I think with our academic standards here, our guys have to be better at their time management, if we’re going to be successful,” Garrett said.
Chiappero’s 3.6 GPA speaks for itself, reflecting not only his hard-working nature on the course but his humble
gratitude for the rare opportunity he’s been given.
“The fact that I’m here is pretty huge,” Chiappero said. “I was in the newspaper when I came [back] for the first time
[to] my city; that’s how big of a deal it is back home. Being here is an honor in itself for me.”
Chiappero faced an unexpected setback with his health last year when he got sick in Argentina over winter break, forcing him to miss the spring golf season. His absence, though short, brought a measure of difficulty to the team.
“I think it hurt us when we lost Matias last semester,” Garrett said. “We were struggling with depth, and I can’t say what would have been, but we definitely felt his loss.”
The team members’ admiration of Chiappero extends beyond their respect for him as a teammate to his role as a mentor and friend to all players.
“He’s like a brother to everybody, especially an older brother to the younger guys,” said teammate Jake Minchew. “He’s always going to be there for you, not chastising you but just helping you and encouraging you.”
After going through rehabilitation, Chiappero is back in shape and will be playing in the upcoming fall season. The first tournament will be on Sept. 17 in South Carolina at the Kiawah Island Invitational.
“I’m really excited,” Chiappero said, regarding his feelings for being back in the game. “I think it’s going to be a pretty good season.”
Garrett said he also has high hopes for Chiappero’s return and the team’s success.
“I think it’s finally going to be our turning point,” Garrett said.
Once he finishes his final year of school, Chiappero is planning to complete his master’s degree at GC and continue his golf career as a volunteer coach for the team with Garrett.