Baseball players spend an incredible amount of time working on their swing, honing every detail of the process from start to finish until they are convinced it is perfect. Many of them swing more than a bat, however, as golf has proven to be a favorite off-season activity of ballplayers. Some take to the course with friends or teammates, with golf serving as a social platform that can enhance friendships and inspire competition.
For Jordan and Maggie Harlow, however, the sport is truly a family affair.
Play to win
Jordan is a senior wrapping up an outstanding career on Linfield’s top-ranked baseball team, and Maggie is a freshman steadily breaking ground in the Wildcats’ golf program. While the two don’t take to the course regularly, when they do, a competitive edge of the most loving variety arises.
“There are Dairy Queen Blizzard bets frequently,” Maggie responded when asked about the sibling rivalry. “We went (golfing) in late-August and Jordan was having the best round of his life. For some reason, he made an all-or-nothing bet on the last hole and I ended up winning,” she said with a laugh.
Jordan recognized that the sense of competition extended beyond the golf course, and remembered wiffle ball games between the two growing up. “I was the baseball player so I took pride in those,” he said. “We used to do home run derbies and she would just kick my butt and I would get so mad.”
The competition and rivalry has shaped who the Harlows have become today, and the two see many parallels between their respective sports.
“I really appreciate golfers as a baseball player, and the mental aspect is really similar,” Jordan said. “I think of her in a tournament situation and the respect I have for her as an athlete, and I use that to fuel my mental toughness on the baseball field.”
“In golf there is a lot of pressure to perform individually for your team, and there are a lot of similarities in that aspect of baseball,” Maggie said. “Every play matters in baseball, but the whole team is there to have your back if you fail on any given play.”
“In both baseball and golf, you have a lot of time to think about how badly you did,” Jordan said, referring to the challenge of maintaining mental composure during rough patches. It is because of his ability to keep a positive attitude that coaches and players alike view Jordan as one of the key leaders on the top team in the nation.
“He has a positive personality and people are drawn to him,” head coach Scott Brosius said of Jordan’s character. “He knows how to hold guys accountable, and this makes them respect who he is as a player and a person.”
Freshman third baseman Eric Lawson echoed the sentiments of Brosius when asked about how Jordan has acted as a role model. “The way he takes care of business every day is something I aspire to do further down the road,” Lawson said, “and his sense of humor keeps guys calm and at the same time encourages them to keep intensity up.”
Jordan commands the respect of the younger players through his mentality and his senior status, but as a freshman, Maggie has had a similar impact on the golf team.
“Maggie is so dedicated and has such a strong positive attitude,” first-year head coach Brynn Hurdus said. “She has been a strong role model for all the other players and she exemplifies leadership qualities every day in practice and on the course.”
“It’s important to have people around you that understand what you’re struggling through on bad days,” junior teammate Alexandria Smith commented on Maggie’s presence. “She is definitely an athlete who likes to compete and she wants to be there and improve even when things aren’t going the right way.”
All roads lead to Mac
After high school, Jordan enrolled at Chemeketa Community College for a chance to continue his baseball career. Towards the end of his first year at Chemeketa, Harlow felt a change of scenery might align better with his dual goal of playing baseball and maximizing his education.
“The Northwest was appealing and there were a lot of good education options,” Harlow said, adding, “It came down to Linfield, Western Oregon and Concordia, but Linfield really stuck out because its education program allows you to graduate with a license.”
The fact that Harlow got a taste of Linfield Baseball while he was a freshman at Chemeketa undoubtedly had an impact on his ultimate decision to switch schools. “I came to a regional game and the setting was electric,” Harlow remembered. He specifically referred to a 10-0 Linfield shutout under the lights behind the dominant 13-strikeout performance of former All-NWC first teamer Robert Vaughan (’11).
Jordan wasted no time integrating himself into the Wildcat baseball program, quickly adopting the philosophy of the coaching staff and style exhibited by the players around him. “When he came in his only goal was to fit in and help the team, and from Day 1 we could tell he was a Linfield kind of guy,” Brosius commented on how Harlow handled the transfer process.
While the eldest of the two siblings had perhaps the more difficult task of transferring schools, the process paved the way for Maggie, who had a first-hand example of what Linfield was like from her older brother. “The biggest factor was that Jordan loved it so I knew I would really like it as well,” she commented about her decision, adding, “it was familiar being on campus because I had being going to lots of games, and I knew the school had a great reputation.”
Family values teach perseverance, determination
Neither of the Harlows hesitated to reply with “my parents,” when asked about their biggest role models. Jordan explained that his father’s career at Eastern Washington had a lot to do with his baseball skills, but hinted that the biggest contributor to the strongest part of his game may be his mother. “My mom played on the USA Water Polo team and whenever I talk to people about my arm I tell them I got it from her,” Jordan said with a grin.
Maggie cited the values she has learned through her family as the most supportive aspect of her athletic career. “I have learned to persevere through other things in life, both athletics and academics, and my family is definitely my biggest role model,” she said. It turns out that it is those values that are the reason she is a college athlete today.
Maggie was set to be a star in basketball at Glencoe High School, as she made the varsity squad as a sophomore. Making her first start on her 16th birthday, tragedy struck as she blew her knee out in the first game of the season. “It was very painful and tough emotionally, and I had worked very hard before that to get in shape and earn a spot,” she remembered about the frustrating setback. Adhering to the tenets of perseverance and determination she developed through her childhood, Maggie made a full recovery and was able to continue playing sports. “I look back and think about how much stronger it has made me in the grand scheme of things,” she said.
After earning a spot on the baseball team as a sophomore at Linfield, Jordan was set to become a full-time starter his junior year until he experienced a similarly frustrating bump in the road. With the season set to begin in February, he developed a case of mono as the final roster began to take shape. “The whole off-season I was getting up early, hitting and lifting weights, and all that hard physical work disappeared in the span of two weeks,” he remembered. Refusing to let the illness ruin his chances of having a breakout season, Harlow’s recovery went well and he landed a starting spot on the team.
Next thing he knew, Jordan had finished the season with a .304 batting average with two home runs and 22 RBI, and a .939 fielding percentage at third base. “It felt good once I was able to overcome, and I got quite a bit of inspiration from when Maggie battled back from her injury,” he said, crediting his sister as a key reason why he made a successful return to the field. For his numbers, Harlow is one of three reigning first team all-NWC selections on the Wildcat roster.
Three years down, three to go
As one career comes to a close and another is just getting started, there are several similarities in terms of what the two have gotten out of their time at Linfield. “How to be a complete person in all aspects of your life is probably the biggest takeaway I’ve had,” Jordan said, adding, “as a student athlete, Linfield taught me how to be organized and responsible, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
“I have definitely enjoyed my time here so far, and it has been what I expected,” Maggie responded when asked to sum up her freshman year. “Having Jordan here has been a huge part of that and he is definitely an academic and athletic role model.”
Hurdus is excited about Maggie’s potential on the golf course, and her maturity and leadership at a young age are positive signs. “I see her being an extremely strong leader and player for the rest of her time here,” Hurdus said. “She is such an inspiration to the rest of the team, and she can definitely become one of the top players in the conference.”
While Jordan is ready to enter the working world with a license to teach, Maggie still has a few years to go. “I want to enjoy it while I’m here,” she said about her journey towards becoming an elementary school teacher. “I’m sure I will also go into coaching at some point, and I want to be close to my brother and family after college.”
Jordan has similar aspirations, and his reality is just a few months away. “I am immediately going to go into teaching and coaching at the middle or high school level,” he said about his desire to teach English and coach football and baseball. Four or five years down the road, he’d like to pursue a master’s degree in teaching.
Brosius remains optimistic that Jordan may be tempted to stay local and continue to be a part of the Linfield community. “We would love to see him at (McMinnville) High School because he is the same guy as a coach and as a player,” Brosius said. “He will be a positive force in kids’ lives as a teacher and as a coach, and whoever gets him is going to be really lucky to have him.”
Whether one looks on the golf course or between the lines on the diamond, one will find a Harlow representing everything it means to be a competitive athlete, well-respected teammate and true ambassador of the game. The fact that these traits carry over into all aspects of the lives of Maggie and Jordan Harlow speaks immensely toward their unbreakable family bond as well as their kindness and generosity as humans.
-- Evan O'Kelly '13