Athlete of the Week: Milford’s Strassle makes a name for himself in golf

Senior Josh Strassle helped Milford High’s golf team to an 11-6 record during the regular season last spring. Submitted photos

(EDITOR’S NOTE: With the high school spring sports season canceled, we’re going to continue our Athlete of the Week feature with a little different format. We’re going to recognize a downstate senior athlete by sport for their career accomplishments. This week, Milford High’s Josh Strassle won our readers’ poll for golf.)

MILFORD — This may have been the biggest putt of Josh Strassle’s career.

The Milford High golfer knew, if he sank the 25-foot putt on No. 18, he’d win the match.

“That was the most scared that I’ve ever been over a putt,” Strassle admitted.

So when he sank the shot to win the match by two strokes, you better believe that Strassle was excited.

“I was screaming on the car ride home,” he said.

What had Strassle won that meant so much to him? He’d finally, finally, beaten his big brother, Kyle, for the first time.

So while that informal match played last summer may have meant nothing to anybody else, it was a memorable moment for Josh.

Two years younger than Kyle, Josh has always played in his brother’s shadow. It was Kyle who won the Henlopen Conference individual title in 2017.

But Josh became a standout in his own right last spring as a junior after Kyle graduated. And he was hoping to do some more good things this year as a senior before the season was canceled.

To be sure, the Strassle brothers are friends as well as golf rivals. Josh realized that last season after Kyle was gone.

“I can tell you that I definitely took it for granted,” said Josh. “That year that he left, coming back the next year just felt empty. I definitely wanted another year with him just to prove myself to him.”

But Milford coach Keith Kendzierski said it was rewarding to see Josh step up as a leader last season. A second-team all-conference honoree, he was a big reason that the Buccaneers went 11-6 in the regular season last year.

While Strassle was Milford’s top player, he was also an unofficial assistant coach, helping out his teammates whenever he got the chance.

“He would pull kids to the side and say, ‘Turn your wrist like this,’ or ‘Move your feet like that,’” said Kindzierski, who is in his second season as coach. “You didn’t even have to ask him. He just jumped right in.

“Last year Josh definitely got an MVP trophy. …. Josh definitely helped us into the double-digit win column. I was thinking we were going to do it again this year.”

Golf is clearly the Strassle family sport. They live on the golf course at The Rookery-North in Milford.

Along with Josh and Kyle, their father, Phil, also plays and helps out with the Bucs during the season.

Josh, who took up the sport when he was about seven, said he usually plays four or five times a week. He also works at the course.

Josh Strassle carded a season-low score of 38 last season while also making second-team all-Henlopen Conference.

“In golf, you’re never going to experience the same thing over again,” said Strassle. “I play the same course almost every single day and I’m in a new spot (all the time). Along with that, I just meet a whole lot of people out here.

“Between getting to know the members and just going out with my friends and having a good time. … it doesn’t matter whether we’re great golfers, we just go out there and have some fun.”

If Strassle has a regret, it’s that he couldn’t figure out how to score better in tournaments. He finished 25th in the DIAA state tournament a year ago.

But Strassle was pretty solid during the regular season, carding as low as a 38 for nine holes. Adding about four inches to his current height of 6-foot-2 over his high school career has also helped him become a pretty long hitter.

He thought he was going to be a better player as a senior.

“I was really looking forward to it,” said Strassle. “I put a couple extra yards on all my shots. The only thing I really needed to get down was my putting. That just takes repetition.

“I was playing some of my best golf coming into the season. Once they sent us home on like March 15th and they said, ‘Don’t come back for a while,’ that’s when it resonated with me — ‘Well, I’ve hit my last shot.’

“I would have really liked to play another year. I think if you ask any kid who plays sports, they wanted to play their year — especially the seniors, who worked their way up. But it’s unprecedented times.”

In the fall, Strassle will rejoin his brother — this time as students at the University of Delaware. A top-five student in his graduating class, Strassle plans to major in computer science.

He knows he’ll always make time to get out on the golf course, however.

“I’m definitely going to be one of those old guys coming out to the country club with my friends every morning, just having a grand old time,” said Strassle. “It doesn’t matter if I’m playing for something. I’m still going to go out there and play, have fun and just try to get better — just beat whoever’s out there, whether it be my brother or my friends.”