You may not know him by his first name, Michael, or his last name, Valletti. You may not know him at all. But those who do know him call him Moose. The golfer’s dad gave him the nickname the night he came into this world.
“When I was born, I was put in intensive care for the first night … and compared to all the other [babies] I was significantly bigger,” said Valletti. “So my dad, the first time he saw me, [called] me Moose. So it kind of stuck since I was born.”
Valletti, a sophomore marketing major on Loyola’s men’s golf team, became serious about golf in eighth grade because of his family’s excitement for the sport.
“My dad, and a lot of my other relatives actually, my brother, played golf,” Valletti said. “So that kind of got me into it, and I was always around them when they were playing, so it kind of just fell into place.”
In high school, Valletti golfed with teammate and close friend Jordan Spieth in Plano, Texas. Spieth is now a professional golfer on the Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA) tour, and Valletti was able to pick up some valuable tips from him that have helped him improve with the Ramblers.
“Playing with [Spieth] and just seeing how he did things was really an influence, and having him as a friend was even better,” Valletti said. “[He’s a] very cool kid and I’m very glad to see him being successful.”
Valletti has been successful in his own right. He said choosing to continue his golf career at Loyola was an easy decision for him.
“I visited the campus I think in late August … and it was still in its nice, pretty form, so I was attracted to that and the Jesuit education,” Valletti said. “The coach was really nice and he just laid out all of the things I wanted to hear, so it was a pretty easy choice.”
Valletti is no stranger to a Jesuit education. He attended Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, after which he made the seamless transition to Loyola in the fall of 2013.
Kyle Stefan, director of golf at Loyola, spoke highly of Valletti as a golfer and a person. From his tremendous improvements from his freshman year golf season to his sophomore year, Stefan said he is excited to see how much Valletti continues to improve throughout his golfing career.
“Michael has improved tremendously since last year and I speak with great pride when saying this, and you can probably hear the excitement in my voice,” said Stefan. “He’s going to be one of our best, if not our best player. So [I am] looking forward to seeing that all come together for him this year.”
Things look like they are still coming together for Valletti, who was tied for 80th place at the Middleburg Bank Intercollegiate tournament through two rounds of play after shooting a 78 in round one and a 74 in round two for a combined score of 152.
“[There are] a lot of good things to say about Michael and we hold him in a high regard here at Loyola as part of the golf program,” Stefan said. “I think he can relate to a wide range of people, which helps him as a teammate, which helps him develop into the man for others that we’re kind of looking to have him be when he graduates — if he’s not already there already.”
Valletti and his teammates will hit the course next on April 3 and 4 at the Bradley Spring Invitational in Peoria, Illinois.