The Forecaddie: Indiana’s real-life Jack Sparrow a swashbuckler of swing

Indiana University Athletics

The Forecaddie: Indiana’s real-life Jack Sparrow a swashbuckler of swing

Forecaddie

The Forecaddie: Indiana’s real-life Jack Sparrow a swashbuckler of swing

College teams are often buoyed by their captains, so it’s nice when a squad can naturally claim one from the start.

The Forecaddie took note that the Indiana men’s golf team gained this good fortune when a certain freshman joined the squad in the fall of 2014 … Jack Sparrow.

The Hoosiers had their very own Captain Jack.

Before The Man Out Front goes on, yes, team members will at times call him “Captain” or “Captain Jack” in reference to Johnny Depp’s famous Captain Jack Sparrow character from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. Also, the real first name for Indiana’s Jack Sparrow is James. But he’s gone by Jack essentially since birth.

So yes, he’s heard it all.

Sparrow was 7 years old when the opening movie in the series, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” came out. He still remembers the first time he heard the Jack Sparrow name uttered on screen.

“I was sitting in my living room and I heard the trailer come on and I was like, ‘What did he say?'” Sparrow told TMOF. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Predictably, kids at school latched onto the hilarity of his shared name quickly. Mike Mayer, the head coach at Indiana, actually first met Sparrow at his golf camp when the future college player was roughly 10-12 years old.

“No doubt about it, from the minute he stepped in there that every camper called him Captain Jack,” Mayer recalled with a chuckle.

Over the years, the name has led to some humorous situations.

Sparrow recalls a time in high school when a janitor asked for his name. The teenager said “Jack Sparrow,” but the janitor refused to believe him. That’s not totally rare for “Captain Jack.” Sparrow has become accustomed to pulling out some form of ID when meeting new people, as they often don’t believe his name at first.

The opening day of class can be a riot.

“I’ve had a lot of classes with him and when he says his name in class on the first day, people start laughing,” said Jake Brown, Sparrow’s teammate and roommate. “That’s just a common occurrence.”

Jack Sparrow (Indiana University Athletics)

Playing competitors in college events pretty much always have a reaction when being paired with Sparrow and learning of his name. Players from other squads will also often inquire to Mayer or other Indiana players if Sparrow’s name is a joke.

As for specific references from the movies? Some will bring up the Black Pearl when meeting Sparrow for the first time. On the way to the Big Ten Match Play Championship earlier this year, a woman who’d become aware of Sparrow’s name asked him if he liked rum.

Sparrow, 22, responded in the affirmative, and she quipped back that she was going to keep it away from him so he didn’t drink it all (Depp’s character is famously fond of rum).

“I hadn’t gotten that one before,” Sparrow said. “That was pretty funny.”

OK, but TMOF wonders if Sparrow is tired of all the jokes. Honestly, he’s generally fine with it (although the ID proof can get exhausting). Sparrow, who has seen the movies but isn’t an obsessive fan, notes with humor that the Pirates character is an easy go-to Halloween costume, estimating he’s gone as the movie Jack Sparrow three or four times.

Coaches and teammates point out their Jack Sparrow is a guy who doesn’t complain and isn’t bothered by much. Even at camp as a pre-teen, Sparrow had already mastered dealing with the comments.

“He just kind of accepted it, knew it was coming and handled it extremely well,” Mayer said.

And just because his name can elicit chuckles doesn’t mean his golf game is a laughing matter. The left-hander was actually recruited as a walk-on and redshirted his freshman year. But he worked hard and earned occasional starts for Indiana in 2015-16. He was put on scholarship heading into 2016-17 and became a staple in the lineup late last spring. He’s continued along this season with several starts. Sparrow has posted three top 20s in his last two seasons. He’s currently ranked No. 872 by Golfweek this season.

Sparrow, now a redshirt junior, also won a team qualifier for the 2018 Big Ten Match Play Championship by seven shots. So the dude can play, and deal with what comes with his name.

The Forecaddie’s advice: Don’t mess with this Jack Sparrow.

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