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Bucs' Amos puts stimulus check to good use — for citizenship

Joe Avento • Jun 18, 2020 at 8:30 PM

JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State golf coach Jake Amos had an idea when he found out he’d be getting a stimulus check.

While others were planning vacations, buying televisions and paying off credit cards, Amos used his new funds to start the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. He’d been thinking about it for a while, and the check served as his impetus.

“When this money came, I’m so lucky what America has given me already, I almost felt bad about taking it,” he said. “I thought ‘What can I do?’ My kids are dual citizens, and my wife is a U.S. citizen. I don’t want to go anywhere else, so I decided to do it. I wanted to become a citizen.”

Amos, who came to the United States from England to play golf first at Lander University and then at Augusta State, filled out the online application the day he received the check. The process could take up to 12 months thanks to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but every July 4th I remember America has given me everything,” he said. “I’m just a little English kid from Leicestershire. I got a free education. I played college golf. I met my wife and have two kids. I have a great job. It just felt right.”

He was an All-American at Lander. Now he’ll be known simply as an American, although he’ll have an interview early next year and will have to pass a test that is said to be tough enough that most Americans would fail.

“I think I’ll be OK,” Amos said. “True story: I took American history and English history in college, and I did better in American history.”

Amos’ first season as a head coach was cut short. He was in his first spring as ETSU’s head coach after Fred Warren retired. The Bucs were a team on the move, having cracked the Top 25 in the fall.

“I just knew we were starting to click all the way through the lineup,” Amos said. “That was our main issue all year. We always had one missing score, but we were starting to get it. I called a meeting to see how we could get ready for our spring break trip. The guys were already thinking about the conference championship and regionals. There were a lot of things we were looking forward to.”

Then the call came. Spring sports championships had been canceled by the NCAA because of the novel coronavirus. A few days later, all the spring sports were canceled for the rest of the season.

“It happened so fast,” Amos said. “It was really tough. I’m still kind of bummed out about it.”

This year’s team only had one senior — Trevor Hulbert — and he has said he’s taking the NCAA up on its offer of an extra year of eligibility to return next year.

“The good thing is we have the exact same team coming back next year, and we’re going to have two freshmen and a transfer, too,” Amos said. “We’re going to have 10 guys. Next year we’ll have depth. Now we have to manage that. It will be a little bit more competitive.”

Amos is hoping to build his team into one like his old college squad. Augusta State won back-to-back NCAA championships. The first one was his senior year. He hung around as a volunteer assistant for the second one.

“That was kind of the blueprint of what I saw ETSU could be, honestly,” said Amos, who admits he was disappointed when Warren didn’t recruit him for ETSU out of high school. “An underdog mentality, a school with a great golf history. That’s why this job attracted me so much. I saw so many similarities.”

Amos’ national championship team, which included Masters champion Patrick Reed, just celebrated its 10th anniversary on June 6, and the members got together on a Zoom call.

“We’ve been doing a lot of reflecting,” Amos said. “It was just amazing to hear what my teammates had to say. What’s weird is we always felt like the underdogs, but heading into the national championship we were ranked No. 3 in the country. We were a small school, but we had a great year.”

It’s the kind of year he dreams the Bucs of having. And if they do, their coach will be an American citizen.

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