‘Model student-athlete’: Bormann heads to medical school after standout career on golf course, classroom

South Dakota State University golfer and Parkston native Sydney Bormann hits a shot during her senior season. (Courtesy of South Dakota State University)

BROOKINGS -- Casey VanDamme worried that Sydney Bormann wasn’t sleeping enough, but that was the extent of his concerns regarding the Parkston native.

Between being a Division-I golfer at South Dakota State University, a human biology major with aspirations of medical school and countless volunteer hours, Bormann was always on the go.

Her backpack on road trips was heavy with textbooks, and VanDamme, who has coached the Jackrabbits for six seasons, remembers her using 15-minute car rides as a quick study session. At the airport after a weekend tournament when everyone would sit back, relax and listen to music, the senior was studying.

Bormann showed a different level of discipline during her four-year career.

“She was very disciplined like I’ve never seen,” VanDamme said. “... At times, I was worried she wasn’t sleeping enough. She might be the first person to go to medical school and gets more sleep.”


The “won’t-be-denied attitude” parlayed into a spot in University of South Dakota’s medical school next year after a successful four-year run on the green as a Jackrabbit.

VanDamme points to Bormann’s determination and consistency in day-to-day activities as her greatest asset on the golf course. She won the Lady Thunderbird Invitational as a sophomore, while also being named to the all-Summit League second team.

Two years later in St. George, Utah, Bormann sat in sixth with a one-over-par 73 after the first round at the Lady Thunderbird Invitational when VanDamme called a team meeting. He delivered the news that the tournament was cancelling the second round, and the season -- along with Bormann’s career -- was likely to come to an abrupt end.

“I was initially very saddened to have it end so abruptly without any closure,” Bormann said. “But I don’t think it really takes away from the memories I made and the experiences I had from the last few years.”

The NCAA granted spring sport student-athletes an additional two semesters of eligibility, but Bormann opted to not use it after talking with her parents and SDSU coaching staff.

“It’s so sad thinking about leaving my family at SDSU,” Bormann said. “But I know pushing medical school back another year probably wouldn’t have been the best decision.”

She’ll head south to Vermillion, where her older sister, Jordan, attends medical school. The family connection, feeling at home on her interview and desire to be a physician in South Dakota led her to staying in state.

“I’ve known since high school that I wanted to pursue medicine,” Bormann said. “The more I shadow and learn from my sister, who is going through medical school right now, the more it confirms that I want to go into medicine.”


The legacy she leaves at SDSU is profound, going beyond her talent on the green.

Through Bormann’s first three seasons, she made three Summit League academic honor rolls, was a three-time Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American scholar, a two-time Summit League all-academic honoree and was named to the 2019 Summit League Commissioner's List of Academic Excellence.

Outside of the classroom, she volunteered at the Brookings Country Club helping the junior golf club, and at Sanford’s emergency room and surgical service department over the summer. She was also the president of SDSU’s student-athlete advisory committee as a senior, helping organize Project Joy, which collects money and holiday presents for underserved families in the Brookings community, as well as the Summit League Food Fight dedicated to competing with conference schools to raise money for food pantries.

Paired with excelling on the golf course, it left VanDamme wondering when she had time to sleep. But also in awe.

“Sydney Bormann is literally the model student-athlete,” VanDamme said. “She’s won a college event, which very few people can say they’ve done individually. She’s been a part of many team wins. What she’s done in the classroom and for our university and community up here in Brookings with all the volunteer hours is literally the model that we will try to get people to duplicate for years.”

VanDamme knew she had a chance to be special before she arrived in Brookings. Professors reached out to him about her because they had heard about her excellence in the classroom, something that the Jackrabbit coach has never experienced before.

Once she arrived on campus, Bormann benefited from the clinical experience confirming her interest in the medical field. She also felt an obligation to give back.

“I think the Brookings community and SDSU has given me so much and really made me into the student, golfer and person I am,” Bormann said. “So I think it’s really important to give back to the community that’s giving me so much.”
VanDamme spent five seasons as the University of Tennessee’s director of instruction and player development before landing in Brookings, but he’s as excited for Bormann’s future as any of his former athletes he can remember.


“She’s going to be a very, very difficult person to replace,” VanDamme said before emphasizing the final part multiple times. “… I’m really excited to see her future. She’s going to do really, really big things.”

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