Sept. 17, 2013
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Recently a photo of George H.W. Bush went viral after the 41st President shaved his head in support of the 2- year-old son of a member of his security detail who lost his hair during treatment for leukemia. Earlier in the summer, a similar story had played out in the world of collegiate women's golf when Vanderbilt women's golf coach Greg Allen gave up his locks in a nod of solidarity to colleague Kim Evans, the head women's golf coach at Auburn.
Allen moved from coaching the men's side with the University of Texas to become the Head Coach of the University of Arizona women's golf team in 2000, and the Beechmont, Ky., native's southern roots helped him quickly bond with Evans. Allen and Evans' teams played at each other's home events each season and became fast friends. When Allen moved to Vanderbilt in 2007, being Southeastern Conference rivals did nothing but strengthen his bond with Evans, whom he says is "like the big sister I never had."
"Especially within the coaching ranks in the sport of golf, we're competitive, we want to beat each other, but at the end of the day we're pretty good friends," Allen said. "She's one of those coaches and one of those people that you just enjoy their company and enjoy being around them. I'd do anything for that lady."
When Evans was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in early May prior to the NCAA Championships, Allen vowed to shave his head if Evans' chemotherapy regimen took hers. By early July the treatments had done just that, and Allen scheduled a detour through the Plains during a drive to Atlanta for a recruiting trip to make good on his vow. Allen spent a few hours with Evans at her home before the Tigers' mentor, in her 20th year at Auburn, did the honors with electric clippers.
Allen's gesture of friendship illustrated just how close the coaching community often grows, in spite of--and partially because of--the profession's dog-eat-dog nature. Other coaches have joined Allen in standing with Evans. Georgia coach Josh Brewer, Alabama coach Mic Potter, Duke coach Dan Brooks and even former UGA mentor Kelley Hester have all sacrificed their hair for the cause.
At a recent junior event that brought together college coaches from across the country, many more showed their support by donning knee-high socks; penguins were featured prominently all the way up Allen's calves. Social media has been a catalyst in the effort, with a group on Facebook updating Evans' progress and encouraging golfers to wear argyle socks during competition as their sign of support.
When the Tigers travel to Nashville this month for the 2013 Mason Rudolph Championship at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, its unlikely that Evans' treatment will allow her to travel with her squad (Evans named Andrew Pratt her associate head coach in June). But its clear that Evans will be on top of everyone's minds--and visible on the top of many folks' bald heads--throughout the weekend.
Victory in Arizona: During Greg Allen's time as the head women's golf coach at the University of Arizona, the athletic department's Senior Woman Administrator, Kathleen "Rocky" LaRose, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Allen and a number of other Wildcat employees all shaved their heads in support of LaRose. More than a decade later, LaRose is planning to retire from the UA athletic department this fall.