April 29th, 2012 is a day that will be remembered in the life of one particular University of the Cumberlands (UC) Patriot for the rest of her life. On that day, UC sophomore Liz Stephens (Tockington, Bristol UK) was finishing her last week of classes before finals. She was also in preparation for the NAIA National Championships that were to be held on May 15th-18th in Greeneville, TN. All this came to a screeching halt as her phone rang.
Stephens received a call from her mother back in England. She was informed that her brother Ed, 19 years old, had been involved in a serious car accident where the car he was in had hydroplaned just 2 miles from her home. Her mother told her that she didn't really have any other information on him and that she would call Liz back once knew more.
After nearly 3 hours of studying for her finals and nearly having a panic attack, Stephens was called back by her mother. She told Liz that Ed had suffered severe brain damage and that was when Stephens decided that she had some choices to make. After completing her finals, Liz traveled home to England to see her family including her brother who was in a coma. She spent her time home at the hospital with her brother and mother.
She then flew back to the United States just before the NAIA National Championship as she helped lead her team to a 14th place finish. She shot a 313 (+21) over the four day tournament to place tied for 34th place. While playing at Nationals though, Ed went into cardiac arrest but was revived after 10 minutes. After the tournament ended, Liz flew home and spent much of her summer at the hospital with her brother.
After much thought, consideration, and advice from family, Liz packed up and came back to the states for her junior year at UC. Stephens commented, "I'm thankful that the professors here have kept me busy and focused on what I could do here than to be ran down emotionally. I'm doing this for my family back home."
Liz also added, "My main motivation is my brother Ed. He woke up from a coma in June while I was there. He can smile and laugh and notify us either yes or no. You see someone who can't live a normal life right now but they are also making the best of their situation. The doctors say he still has 3-5 years of recovery ahead of him, but I know that he can do this."
Stephens continues her pursuit of her degree as well as a career here in the United States. She continues to take her golf game to a whole new level as she led the Patriots to 2 tournament victories in the fall including 2 individual championships as well as 3 other top 10 finishes.
Liz said, "My mother is a big inspiration to me. She was looking out for me in a personal and professional standpoint in telling me to come back to school. Another person who I look at as an inspiration is Lauren Wombles. I saw what she was able to do in her career here at UC and I want to be able to make that kind of an impact on my team as well. I want to continue to play at a professional level, but my ultimate goal is to be a coach."
UC Head Coach Chris Kraftick commented, "What Liz has been able to accomplish while dealing with the health of her brother is nothing short of heroic. This past semester, she established herself as one of the premiere players in the NAIA, while earning the highest semester GPA of her college career. At times it has been difficult for her, but the drive to be her best and give her mom and brother something to smile about pushes her forward each day."
Liz and the Patriot ladies will hit the links again on March 4th and 5th as they will travel to take part in the Rome News Tribune Invite.
For more information on the Patriot women's golf program along with other Patriot athletics, please visit www.cumberlandspatriots.com.