He may have been a walk-on in 2009, but he went on to excel as a member of the men’s golf team. So it’s no surprise that golfer Aaron Pauls is being inducted into the UFV Cascades Athletic Hall of Fame.
Pauls has always taken the sport very seriously. After a stellar golf career with the Cascades and a bachelor of kinesiology degree (2015), he earned his master’s degree at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He then returned to UFV to coach the men’s golf team for nearly seven years.
During his time as a player with the golf team, Pauls racked up a number of accomplishments, including leading the Cascades to their first CCAA national championship title, and representing Team Canada in Switzerland and Korea at the University Golf Championships.
When he returned as a coach, Pauls continued the legacy of his own golf coach, Chris Bertram.
It’s a legacy Pauls takes seriously. Bertram taught him to view golf as more than a singular game, to focus on more than just his own performance, and to value his studies as much as his golf game.
“I was always drawn to golf because it was an individual thing,” says Pauls. “I liked the idea that if things go poorly today or if things go well today, it’s my fault.”
When he joined the UFV Cascades in 2009, Pauls did not often interact with his teammates or his coach, instead focusing on himself.
“When I started, I just kind of did my own thing,” says Pauls. “I wasn’t concerned about other people and other things on the team. I was just concerned about me playing better. I wasn’t concerned about school.”
“He allowed me to keep sticking around UFV until I had figured it out and was patient with me and willing to work alongside me at that point.”
It came to a point when Pauls felt he didn’t want to attend UFV any longer.
“I actually quit after my first semester,” reflects Pauls. “I just told Chris I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t really want to be there, to be honest. As an eighteen-year-old kid, you think you’re better than you are.”
But Bertram didn’t give up on the young player. He met with him at a local coffee shop and encouraged him to stay. Whatever was said at that meeting, it turned Pauls’ career around.
“He allowed me to keep sticking around UFV until I had figured it out and was patient with me and willing to work alongside me at that point,” says Pauls.
Pauls’ decision to stay paid off in a career at UFV that included numerous individual tournament wins, five CCAA national championship team medals, an individual silver medal at nationals, and even Academic All-Canadian honours in 2013.
During that period Bertram and Pauls became a bit of a duo: Pauls leading the performance of the team with Bertram managing and coaching. And when the opportunity came for international championships, Bertram went alongside Pauls, and they had the opportunity to golf together as friends.
As Pauls reflects on his own career in coaching at UFV from 2017 to 2023, he thinks fondly on those moments, and appreciates them more now, having had to learn to encourage and motivate his own players.
“I’ve never had to sit somebody down and convince them to stay,” says Pauls. “But you’re always trying to allow people to be who they are. So, there’s another skill that I had to learn, managing personalities. I wouldn’t say I’m great at it, but I learned how to do it better over that time because I’ve been on the other side of those conversations.”
Even though Pauls is a bit of an introvert, he wanted to return to coaching at UFV to continue Bertram’s legacy of giving, in the only way he knew how.
“Chris was there because he was passionate about it. And that rubbed off on me a little bit. And that’s much of the reason why I came back and started coaching. I saw what Chris had done for so many years and I thought, well, I care about this place a lot, and I want to try to help if I can.”
That level of care translated into even more success, and as an assistant coach Pauls helped guide the team to a CCAA national championship, a Canadian University/College Championship, and a Canada West Golf Championship. After taking over from Bertram as head coach in 2020, he continued to leave his mark on the program with the team taking home two more Canada West medals, and a podium finish at the 2023 Canadian University/College Championships.
Pauls no longer coaches at UFV, having passed the torch and Bertram’s legacy to one of his old golf teammates, Connor O’Dell (BKin ’18).
These days, Pauls only golfs for fun.