BOCA RATON, Fla. -
After serving 11 years as Florida Atlantic University Head Men’s Golf Coach, Angelo Sands has announced he will retire at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season.
“Congratulations to Coach Angelo Sands on retirement,” said Pat Chun, vice president and director of athletics. “Coach Sands has spent a lifetime making a difference and serving others selflessly. I thank him for his years of dedicated and loyal service to our student-athletes, athletics program and community. He will always be an integral part of the Florida Atlantic University family.” Sands notes that Chun's dedication to the academic success of student-athletes coincided with his own values, contributing to his enthusiasm for his work.
Since his time at FAU, Sands has personally created and instituted the annual FAU Slomin Autism Championship. The event helps raise awareness for The Slomin Family Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, Inc. The event has continued to grow year after year, with the ninth annual tournament held in March 2017 featuring 13 teams from across the country. Coach Sands is grateful for FAU's commitment to make this tournament come to life each year.
He commented on the support he experienced this year saying, "Pat Chun came to our rescue, calling in the Palm Beach County Sports Commission to help us find a course for our annual tournament. This kind of support is what I have come to greatly appreciate from everyone involved in athletics."
Sands also has coached many elite golfers including 10 USGA and/or Florida Amateur tournament participants, one NCAA Regional competitor and five regular-season tournament champions who claimed seven tournament titles. Since 2006, his teams have captured 35 top-five finishes including eight regular-season tournament victories. He led the team to national recognition in the 2009-10 season as the Owls were consistently ranked among the nation's top 100 collegiate teams in the Golfweek poll, placing as high as No. 77, and receiving votes in the Golf World/Nike Division I Coaches poll. He also made sure his teams were succeeding in the classroom, which was rewarded when men’s golf received the NCAA's Public Recognition Award in 2012 and 2013, which honored teams whose Academic Progress Rate (APR) was among the top 10 percent in the nation in their sport.
During their time at FAU, many of Sands’ golfers have qualified for and participated in multiple regional and national amateur tournaments. In 2015, then-senior Derron Peyton qualified for the Florida State Golf Association Amateur Match Play Championship after placing third out of 120 competitors at the 40th annual Palm Beach Kennel Club/County Amateur Championship. Peyton also qualified for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 2014 and the 2013 Florida Amateur Match Play Championships. He was joined by fellow Owls Richard Donegan, Alex Gates and Airik Medinis in the latter as more than 300 amateur golfers attempted to qualify, with only the top 64 being selected.
Another one of those elite Owls is Ben Silverman who is currently playing on the Web.com Tour and was previously a member of the Mackenzie Tour, which is a part of Canada’s PGA Tour. While at FAU, Silverman was one of the Owls’ top performers earning Sun Belt Conference Male Golfer of the Month for October 2009 and finishing his career at FAU tying for 16th at the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Championship.
Donegan proved to be one of Sands’ leaders as he was the third Owl during the coach’s tenure to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Tournament in 2013. Donegan also earned Sun Belt Conference Men’s Golfer of the Month honors for February 2013. Joining him atop the leaderboard is Kelly McHugh, who Sands coached from 2007-10. In 2009, as a sophomore, McHugh was the first FAU men's golfer to receive an invitation to the NCAA Regionals since the Owls moved to Division I in 1993. He then went on to compete at the 92nd Annual Florida State Amateur Championship where he finished 23rd. McHugh was the first Owl to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship (2010) and took part in the 2010 Dixie Amateur Championship, which is considered one of the top amateur tournaments in the nation, placing fourth among 305 competitors. Silverman was the event’s only previous competitor from FAU, and he took 33rd in the 2009 tournament. McHugh ended his FAU career at the 2011 Southern Amateur Championship.
Sands had four additional golfers qualify for amateur events while at the program’s helm including Carl McCauley (2010 United States Amateur Championship), Justin Thompson (2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship), Michael Baskovich (2011 Southern Amateur Championship) and Amit Odaiyar (22nd PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship). Justin Thompson and Morgan Hill, both team alumni and former team captains, continue working with Sands and the team to support player development both on the course and in the classroom.
Sands joined FAU with years of coaching experience and a longstanding involvement in the game of golf. From 1990-2004, he served as a golf instructor with the Quail Valley Country Club, High School Summer Camp, and Junior League Summer Program in Missouri City, Texas. In 1992, Sands became the head golf coach at Elkins High School in Missouri City and saw great success over the next twelve seasons. From 1995 to 2004, his teams won nine district championships, four regional championships (1995, 2002-04) and won the Texas 5A State Championship in 2003.
In addition to his contributions to the game as a coach, Sands has also been a heavy benefactor of golf through his organizational and fundraising efforts. From 1969-1976, he was actively involved in organizing junior golf through a city junior golf league at Sylvan Heights Public Golf Course, as well as the Knights of Columbus and the Jaycees Junior tournaments in New Castle, PA. While in Houston, he continued his involvement, acting as chair and fundraiser for many junior golf events. Before leaving Houston, Sands collaborated with community leaders to reclaim the par 3 course at Quail Valley Country Club for junior golfers. Mayor Allen Owen awarded him and his wife with “Lifetime Citizen Status” and the Key to Missouri City, Texas.
A developer of "Merging Mind and Mechanics, a Seminar to Improve Your Game," Sands came to FAU with a diverse background in public service. In addition to working as an educator for nearly 30 years, Sands was elected mayor of New Castle, Pennsylvania in 1980 and served in that capacity for four years, after previously having served in the New Castle City Council for four years. His wife, Dr. Patricia Liehr, served as the associate dean for Nursing Research and Scholarship at FAU's Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing from 2004-14. Dr. Liehr has been instrumental with the FAU men’s golf team in teaching mindfulness and other useful mind-body techniques for the game and for life along with cooking a traditional Italian meal for the team to open and close the season.
When asked about his time at FAU, Sands said, "It has been an honor to work with the men golfers at FAU, and this year's group is very special. This year's captain, Caleb Sibley, has continued a tradition of leading with commitment to the team culture that I value, emphasizing academic achievement, community service and character on and off the course as well as golf accomplishment.”