Thirty+ Years Removed from NCAA Title, Steve Loy Keeps Caring About His Sun Devils
By Griffin Fabits, Walter Cronkite School Class of 2021
Steve Loy takes a stroll down the hall at the Phil and Amy Mickelson Player Development Facility in Tempe and all the memories of an illustrious coaching career seem to meet him at the door.
How could they not?
It's an emotional, nostalgic experience made possible by the dozen of recently-painted portraits of some of Sun Devil Golf's finest. Loy, the coach that helped the ASU men's team win its first national championship in 1990, has a mural of his own in the hall, donning a white golf polo and sporting an unfeigned grin.
The painting of Loy is part of a five-person mural that also includes some of the best coaches in program history.
Loy's tenure with the Sun Devils included a laundry list of terrific accolades. His impact is still felt and observed more than three decades after his hire in 1987. It's why he felt compelled to fund the painting project himself, when current head coach Matt Thurmond briefed him of the plan for these portraits.
"I came to the coaching staff and said, 'Look, I want to be a support and I want to help the program. When you see initiatives that are important to you and that I can be helpful in, let me know.'
"This was the first one on their agenda and it was a great one to be a part of," he said.
(photo of Steve Loy and Phil Mickelson by Rick Bullock)
Thurmond was shocked and beyond appreciative. But Loy was adamant: After all the program and the university had done for him and his family, this was how he wanted to repay them.
His most recent gift, a multi-year commitment, was made with intentions to support Sun Devil Golf and the Thunderbirds Golf Complex to ensure an elite level training facility is maintained for student-athletes and coaches alike. Future pledge payments will be used to support staffing from an operations and coaching perspective, enhancements in technology and developmental equipment and other uses identified by Sun Devil Golf leadership.
Full circle for @PhilMickelson and Steve Loy.
Loy was on the bag when Phil won in Tucson as an amateur on @PGATOUR in 1991.
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) February 23, 2021
"Some of the greatest years of my life were as a coach at ASU," he said. "I'm a very proud Sun Devil. Every time I can be around that environment, it just vibrates. It's exciting."
Once a Sun Devil always a Sun Devil. Former coach Steve Loy gifts the team with a one of a kind art gallery painted by alum Kyle Lucks
— Sun Devil Men's Golf (@sundevilmgolf) September 16, 2020
"I don't think there is anything more vital to the fabric of a program as having past players and coaches deeply and passionately connected to it," notes fifth-year Sun Devil head coach Matt Thurmond. "Coach Loy has now been there multiple times when we had a unique and difference-making need to be met. I'm beyond appreciative for his passion for and generosity to our program. We are so much better because of him and our alums who care and give back."
Packed inside Loy's six-year tenure was a national title, two Pac-10 titles, two Pac-10 Coach of the Year awards, 26 team championships and he helped 10 Sun Devils reach 20 All-American honors. He was also a 2002 inductee into the Arizona State Hall of Distinction.
Loy, who says ASU gave him the "footprint for everything I do in life," has remained closely affiliated to the program since his departure in 1992. He's been on the Sun Angel Foundation board since 2002, an organization that's helped fund resources for ASU student-athletes for more than 50 years.
He and the Sun Angel Foundation started an endowment for assistant coaches within the golf program, funding their stipends to help keep the best coaches and minds right here in Tempe.
"The reality is," he said, "by helping the assistant coaches financially, it's able to have them have sustainable, longer tenures."
He's also urging past players and alums to stay active within the program, not just financially, but personally, too. He's just doing his part to provide for the next generation of Sun Devil golfers, something that's become morphed into a personal mission statement of his.
— ASU Foundation (@asufoundation) February 3, 2021
"Many, many people have no idea how deep a legacy ASU Golf has been, and by having something that can portray that on an annual basis and be updated and be a part of it was very exciting to me."
If these walls could talk inside the Thunderbirds Golf Complex, they'd tell the rich stories of some of the best to ever weave their way through the program. And they'd surely sing the praises of Loy, the eternal Sun Devil who guided a program to its first taste of national prominence.
"The legacy comes from people, not from the records and the history. It comes from the people who are involved," he said. "It's a very important part of our entire growth at the university."