ultoday.com interviews Theo Sliman, UL's new golf coach.

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in New Iberia, in a strong Catholic family, Lebanese descent. I'm the third Theodore, after my grandfather and father. At first they called me Teddy, but after the the three chipmunks Theodore, Alvin & Simon, I personally went to Theo. That's why I go by that.

I have a son Theo. IV. He goes by Drew, short for Quadruple. My wife is Mary Katherine Montgomery from Opelousas. She was working for [baseball] Coach Robichaux when I met her. I was playing golf for the team, and we've been very happy ever since.

I picked up the game of golf from my father and grandfather, obviously golf is big in the family. My grandfather was a dominant amateur golfer, competitively. He won in New Orleans, played for Loyola, won the GNO City Championship several times-- this is the 1930's & 40's. I do not know much about his career unfortunately. He was good friends with Jay & Lionel Hebert, the only two brothers to win the PGA championship, they're from here in Lafayette. Lionel was pretty much responsible for establishing the PGA Senior Tour; he was heavily involved with getting that started.

My father went to LSU, played there. He tried to make a professional career but it didn't work out, so he became a pro. He dominated the PGA Gulf States section as a player in the mid-80's. He won the Louisiana Open, and was my teacher, from age 6 until I quit playing competitively.

How did you end up at UL?

I played at Catholic High in New Iberia. I had offers from South Alabama, Tech, ULM, and McNeese. They were recruiting me, but I wanted to stay close to my father. He's my swing teacher, he's my best friend. So staying close to him was one of the reasons I chose UL, but it was also the program. George Cestia was a high school teammate of mine, two years older, and a member of the Ragin' Cajuns golf team. He had a positive influence on me coming here, as well as the strength of the program. It's a great program.

Tell us about UL.

UL's a great school. It's got everything to offer. It's not too big size-wise. It's just big enough to give that big-school feel, but small enough where you feel you get attention from your professors. You're not just a number.

I do love it, I absolutely love it. You go to the athletics side, it's one big family. When I was a player, and I feel this as a coach, every coach is the mother or father to their players, but the other coaches are aunts & uncles. I've gotten exposed to that even more as a coach.

I think it's the culture here. I've traveled a lot, and you don't see the friendliness everywhere. You go to an in & out burger place in California, you're not going to see the friendliness you see here. You walk down the street here, and people say "Hi." You don't see that elsewhere. Tell us about your golf program. I'm extremely fortunate to come in this year with the cupboards full. That's a testament to Coach Bass. He was my coach, and he's a friend as well. He stays around. He lets me get my bruises, but he's there with a band-aid.

I'm extremely excited with the future. I think you're going to see this program getting better and better every year.

Timing is everything. Craig Perks, the 2002 Player's Champion, a former Ragin' Cajun, lives here in Lafayette now after retiring from the pro circuit. With Craig no longer traveling, he wants to get involved, and give back to the program, his time, his knowledge. That will be a tremendous recruiting opportunity. With the timing of Dr. Savoie coming in, the future of this program is tremendous.

We just got Nathan Savoy, the #1 prospect in the state, a local young man from St. Thomas More. We're recruiting across the world, not just here in the back yard. We're meeting with the players, the kids are extremely excited. I'm a humble man, I ask my players to tell me what they like and dislike about me. That has been well-received by the players, and the knowledge they have given has been very helpful. I can tell they're very happy with the enthusiasm we have here.

If you weren't coaching golf, what would you want to do?.

Probably work as a veterinarian at a big zoo. I love animals, I love to go to the zoo. I love monkeys, orangutans. I wanted a chimp as a pet when I was a kid.