Nick Voke rehabs from freak injury, sets sights on nationals


Jen Hao Wong/Iowa State Daily

Nick Voke recorded his tenth career top-10 finish by tying for second at the VCU Shootout on Sept. 22. As a team, Iowa State finished in fourth place out of 13 teams.

Mike Randleman

It was a clear, cool night in May. Finals week had just come to an end and Nick Voke was coming off one of the most successful freshman seasons in ISU men’s golf history.

Cruising down Beach Avenue in Ames on his longboard, Voke was enjoying a weekend off before he and the Cyclones took to Missouri for the NCAA regionals the following weekend.

Then it all went black.

“Apparently as I was looking the wrong way, I was fully relaxed, right? So the skateboard went right into a pothole and I wasn’t looking the right way and I went flying,” Voke said. “I landed on my left shoulder, destroyed my clavicle and had a pretty bad concussion.”

Voke immediately lost consciousness on impact and suffered memory loss in the first few days of his recovery.

“I can’t remember a thing. There was probably a week where I can probably only remember doing one thing,” Voke said. “I can’t really remember much of my stay in the hospital. I think I was there for four or five days.”

His injury sidelined him for the next two months, and its timing could not have been worse as the team was looking to reach the NCAA finals for the first time since 1953.

“When it happened, it kind of took the wind out of our sails because it was the first time making regionals in a few years,” said teammate Collin Foster. “We weren’t expected to make it to nationals anyway, and then you take away your number two guy? It’s not looking good for you.”

Despite the adversity the Cyclones faced, they rallied around Voke, who led the team with eight rounds in the 60s and was second in scoring average at 72.39.

“The support I got was amazing,” Voke said. “A lot of the Iowa State staff came out and saw me, the whole women’s [golf] team came out and the guys were here a lot. Then they took off to regionals and played exceptional.”

Needing to finish inside the top five to advance to nationals, the Cyclones rallied on the final day. 

Entering the third and final round, Iowa State hung around to position itself in sixth place.

Then the floodgates opened.

With an 18-under-par total of 270, the team notched its lowest 18-hole total in school history and received career performances across the board.

It was a Cinderella story for Iowa State as it entered nationals as the lowest-seeded team in the field and did so without one of its top weapons. 

Voke’s memory of regionals week still remains fuzzy, but hearing the news of his teammates’ success was one thing he could not forget.

“That’s one of the things I do remember, I remember going on my phone and seeing they qualified,” Voke said. “It goes to show the depth of the team, as well as the good job Coach [Andrew] Tank is doing, to step up and play well and create some history.”

Now at full strength and playing golf since mid-July, Voke has not sworn off longboarding, even amidst a bit of ribbing from teammates.

“You really don’t kick a man right away when he’s down like that, so we waited a little bit until we started to tell him to burn his longboard,” Foster said.

Senior teammate Sam Daley is not a longboarder like Voke and has jokingly tried to wean him and other teammates off it.

“I don’t longboard. They’re death-boards. I can’t stand them,” Daley said with a laugh. “There’s cracks everywhere, there’s people flying everywhere. I try telling some of those young boys, but they don’t listen to me.”

With his injury and the jokes now behind him, he’s focused on rehabilitation. 

His motivation has been fueled by seeing his team, who finished 25th out of 30 at the NCAA finals, fly away without him.

“It was really good seeing the guys off, but at the same time it hit me on the inside when I saw them fly off on the private jet out to Prairie Dunes and I thought ‘I really want to be on that jet,’” Voke said. “So I was quick to start the rehab and get working on my game so hopefully we can make it back to nationals and I’ll be on that plane.”