2016 INDUCTEE - KIM EVANS
By David Elwell
Daily Sports Writer
It's been a colorful life for Kim Evans. From the home she grew up in Decatur she could see the lush green of the Decatur Country Club golf course. "Hole No. 2 was right behind our house," Evans said. "The great Bill Curtis taught me how to play the game." In high school it was all about the red of the Decatur Red Raiders. "My senior class was close," said Evans, a 1976 Decatur graduate. "We are still close today."
Evans picked the blue and orange of Auburn for college. She played on the golf team with a goal to play on the LPGA Tour. Eventually, the career path turned to coaching. Evans found her way back to Auburn in 1994 after 6¬Ω years of wearing the gold and white of Georgia Tech as an assistant coach. "It just felt like it was time to come home to Auburn," Evans said of the1994 decision.
In 21 seasons, her teams won eight Southeastern Conference championships, made 20 NCAA Regional appearances and had seven Top 10 finishes in 14 NCAA appearances. The 1981 Auburn graduate became one of the most respected golf coaches in the country. The color teal took a prominent role in Evans' life in 2013. That's when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Teal is the designated color to show support for ovarian cancer awareness.
It was New Year's Day 2013 and Evans was at the beach. "It was a beautiful day and I just didn't feel good," Evans said. "I thought there's no reason why I should feel this bad."After months of battling fatigue and discomfort, Evans went to the doctor and took a test that revealed a low level of cancer in her blood. A mass was discovered on her left ovary. Unlike breast and cervical cancer, there is no reliable screening test for ovarian cancer. When it is diagnosed in the early stages, the survival numbers are great. However, only 19 percent of cases are diagnosed in the early stage. Evans planned to wait until the golf season ended to seek treatment.
She shared her story with Alabama assistant coach Susan Rosenstiel at the SEC Women's Tournament. Rosenstiel, whose husband had battled cancer, urged her to not wait.
Evans heeded the advice. This time the blood test showed the level of cancer was up. She was diagnosed with clear cell carcinoma. She decided to step away from the day-to-day duties of the golf team to begin her treatment. It consisted of five rounds of chemotherapy, multiple blood transfusions and six surgeries. There are many forms of cancer, but one common element in battling the disease is the need for support of family and friends. Evans got that in abundance. She was overwhelmed by the support from the golf world and the Auburn family.
The phrase "Sock it to Ovarian Cancer" started a rally socks campaign which filled the Facebook page "Rally for Coach Kim Evans" with photos of people and even pets wearing colorful socks. Several golf coaches shaved their heads in support. "When I think about it now, I really can't believe all the love and support I got," Evans said. "I know it helped me beat the disease." In October of 2013, doctors at UAB told Evans she was cancer free.
Later at the next Auburn home football game, Evans stepped onto the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium as she was introduced. The crowd roared with approval when Evans' good news was announced. "What Kim Evans means to Auburn is different for everybody who knows her," Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said. "She's an inspiration to me and my family and the entire Auburn family and the country." In 2015, Evans resigned her coaching duties and went to work for the Vice-President of Student Affairs. It's a move she says she does not regret. She travels to UAB every three months for testing. On April 13 she got the good news again. She's been cancer free for 2¬Ω years. Even though she's winning the battle, Evans she has not stopped the campaign for ovarian cancer awareness. She's heavily involved in many fund-raising activities. The 5K races started in her honor are still going strong. Evans could only walk in the races two years ago. Today, she runs.
The huge video board at Jordan-Hare even got involved last September. On the Friday night before the home game with Mississippi State, it was lit up in the designated colors for different cancers. At one point the stadium was bathed in teal for ovarian cancer awareness. "I've had a really blessed life," Evans said. "I just want to have a lot more of it to live."