Auburn women’s golfers overcome trying season
The Auburn women’s golf team had to overcome far more than the
normal highs and lows of the sport to make the NCAA
Coach Kim Evans was diagnosed with clear cell ovarian cancer May
7. One of the Tigers’ top players, Victoria Trapani, missed much of
the spring after doctors found her mother’s breast cancer had
returned in December.
Assistant coach Margaret Shirley left in February because she
couldn’t travel with the team during her own bout with health
The Tigers barely managed to advance to the championships
starting Tuesday in Athens, Ga., with an eighth-place regional
finish on their home course. Only the top eight teams qualify for
the 24-team field. Student assistant Danielle Downey coached the
team at regionals while Evans recuperated from surgery to remove an
”We proved a lot to ourselves,” Trapani said. ”We kind of
lost it in ourselves after constantly having bad news. Literally it
was like one thing after another. We’re young and we shouldn’t have
to be faced with all the things we’ve been through. Ultimately
we’ve grown as people and as a team and it showed after our
performance at regionals.”
Evans managed to watch the Tigers tee off on the final day and
returned for the finish after rebuilding strength with a long
Evans, who starts chemotherapy five days after the championships
end, received her doctor’s blessing Wednesday to make the trip to
Athens. She’s already discussed the course with her team because
she doesn’t expect to be able to make the practice round.
The ”kooky,” fun-loving players who have been through so much
make Evans chuckle.
”I love this team. It’s a gutsy little team, and they’re a lot
of fun,” said Evans, who started feeling fatigued in February.
”For me, it’s more of a celebration. I get to go over there and
watch them do their thing and see a lot of amazing coaches that
reached out to me over the last few weeks and kind of enjoy myself
for a couple of days. Then be able to come back here and get ready
for this battle I have.”
It seemed unlikely the Tigers would make it this far.
They finished last in back-to-back tournaments after a strong
start in the fall, but earned a No. 14 seed in the regional after a
resurgence at the Bryan National Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C.,
and the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Trapani’s return provided a morale boost.
She remained in school during the spring but mostly took a break
from golf amid the burden of her mother’s own cancer fight. Kim
Trapani had been diagnosed with breast cancer when Victoria was in
Doctors found that it had returned right before finals in
December and that the cancer had metastasized into her lungs.
Some good news finally came after spring break because the
cancer hadn’t spread in the previous few months. Victoria Trapani
returned to the course.
”I told her that if she tries to beat this and changes her diet
and does certain things then I’ll get back out on the golf course
and try to make our lives as normal as possible,” the sophomore
said. ”We made kind of a deal. That’s when I started back playing
Shirley now works for Atlanta Junior Golf, where she got her own
start as a youngster. She was diagnosed with low blood pressure
after she had passed out several times, including once at Auburn’s
football national championship game in January 2011. She took much
of November and December off, and doctors placed her on travel
restrictions until May.
Shirley, who played for Evans, said she’s fine now. She showed
up for part of the Friday round during regionals to cheer on her
former team and said what they accomplished ”brought me to
”They just kind of had that look in their eye,” Shirley said.
”They’re fighters. They’ve had to be this year. There’s only one
way to do it. You could tell they were playing for Coach just from
the minute they walked out on that golf course.”
Evans has her own take on what the Tigers have endured this
season. It’s the highs and lows of life, not just golf.
”It’s been a year of life, is what it’s been,” she said.
”We’ve all kind of had a little chapter in it. I couldn’t be more
proud of them to just keep on keeping on. They’re taking it as they
come. The good times, too. We’ve had some great times.
”They’re just going to keep on keeping on.”