Women’s golf seniors show resilience and strength

Chloe Burdette

Editor in Chief

 

The College of Wooster women’s golf team are very familiar with overcoming challenges, especially the team’s seniors. These obstacles during their college careers weren’t just any other obstacles — at times, these bumps in the road felt irreversible, unexpected and demoralizing.

Flashback to January 2018: Golf seniors Megan Gronau ’21, TongTong Wu ’21, Devon Matson ’21 and Lilly Dunning ’21 had only been on the golf team for half a year before their Head Coach Lisa Campanell Komara was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. “Once I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew immediately I had to let the team know in a meeting,” Campanell Komara said. I remember looking at them having to say the word ‘cancer’ and the scared look in their eyes and tears.”

Gronau spoke about the news at the time. “The whole team was inspired by Coach’s positive and optimistic attitude after her diagnosis.” Matson added, we kept pushing because of the bond that we had all created with each other, especially with Coach. We all love her so much, and when she was diagnosed, we all did everything we could to support her.” 

After a nine-month treatment journey, Campanell Komara found herself in remission and the path seemed clear for her and the team. 

Soon after becoming cancer-free, then-Athletic Director Keith Beckett announced that the Wooster men’s and women’s golf teams would have one coach. Although not set in stone, the women’s team worried that their coach would be replaced. “When her job was in jeopardy, we fought very hard to make her stay,” Matson said. The team had already worried that they would lose her once — the team would not let it happen again. After being approached by members of the women’s golf team, The Voice released an article on April 12, 2019 titled “Golf to adopt a new coaching model for 2019-2020 season.” After the women’s golf team was able to express their concern on the matter, Campanell Komara kept her rightful place as the women’s coach, and all felt right again until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The pandemic sent many athletes home from their spring break trips, including the women’s golf team, without any kind of warning. The pandemic felt like just another harrowing setback for the already-expended seniors. “The pandemic changed everything I planned, and it also disrupted my golf practice and tournaments,” Wu said. “I am sad about not being able to travel to Hilton Head Island again to finish my senior year, as well as not being able to spend my junior year with my favorite senior teammates. The pandemic created so many uncertainties for me to plan about my travels, academics and golf.” 

Although given another obstacle, the seniors kept the same optimistic attitude as their coach did throughout her cancer treatments. “What Coach continued to remind us about, even through her diagnosis and through the pandemic, is that things in life will happen, but you just must keep pushing through and do what you set out to do,” Dunning said. 

As the seniors have one more week until they are College of Wooster graduates, they hope to give advice to underclassmen before they leave for good. “Expect the unexpected, always,” Dunning said. “You may get to Wooster thinking your four years will go a certain way and it may go a completely different way. That’s okay! Be ready to adapt, improve, work harder when it gets tough, and you’ll be even more proud of yourself and your team at the end of your career.” Matson added that underclassmen should cherish time with teammates when the going gets tough. “Your team can offer you so much. It is such a great support system to have, so don’t be afraid to reach out if you need anything from anyone.”

Campanell Komara credits her seniors for their resilience during such a challenging college golf career. “They truly never gave up,” said Campanell Komara. “I’m so proud of these seniors in how they have handled all the adversity and challenges put on them as far back as their first year. I can’t think of any team in athletics that has gone through so much. We talk about a culture of caring, and they believe in it every day.”

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