FROM THE HEART: Resiliency Guides Fortman On and Off the Course
Written by: Adam Prescott
WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Otterbein junior Kurt Fortman is a winner… that’s a fact. He earned medalist honors at the 2018 Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) Men’s Golf Championships last year individually, besting the 45-player field by three strokes, and has already helped his team raise multiple league trophies and make multiple NCAA appearances.
The Cardinals have actually strung together a dynasty lasting more than two decades now, winning 20 of the last 27 OAC crowns and making 21 NCAA trips in the same time span. Otterbein has claimed eight-consecutive regular-season titles in men’s golf, all made possible from student-athletes like Fortman.
In addition to his success on the links, Fortman (Cincinnati/Elder) has maintained a 3.30 grade-point average in the classroom while majoring in Finance. He hopes to eventually get into sales.
“Golf has always influenced my path in the classroom, and vice versa,” Fortman explained. “Both help keep me honest and on track with scheduling. They are equally important so I manage the time accordingly.”
Fortman was essentially destined to play golf by default. He had two open-heart surgeries before his sixth birthday, the first coming when he was just two weeks old and then second at age five. His aortic arch wasn’t connected properly and a small hole needed to be fixed between ventricles. When an aortic valve was leaking blood back into the left ventricle, his heart was opened again.
The stress on his heart made it tougher to keep up with other kids during daily activities and, by the time fifth grade arrived, he was forced to give up sports like soccer and basketball. The lanky lefty, who had first picked up a golf club at two years old, knew golf would be his competitive arena.
“I have never coached a player with better perspective,” Otterbein head coach Brian Booher said. “He takes things in stride on the golf course and in life, but you may not always know where that stems from. For him, he has memories of not always being able to do the same things that other kids do. I think it’s really trained him to enjoy everything he can possibly enjoy. He never complains or wants to bring attention to himself.”
Fortman was back at it again this past fall, holding a 74.8 average throughout a jam-packed schedule, before encountering some unexpected adversity before the holidays. Accustomed to six-month doctor checkups since he was little, Fortman now had a planned surgery set for December 10 to address replacing a valve from his pulmonary to aortic.
Full procedural timeframe was expected to be around a week but, little did anyone know, Fortman’s stay would end up being 38 days. He was in the hospital for Christmas, he was in the hospital for New Years, and his road back to normalcy would be steep and demanding…
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