There is a void on the golf courses around the Mid-Columbia this spring.
It’s not that there is a lack of golfers, but it is the one golfer who is missing.
Two-time state champion Emily Baumgart from DeSales blew out her right knee playing basketball in January, derailing her quest for a third consecutive 1B/2B state title.
“It has been hard,” said Baumgart, a four-year starter in basketball who led her team with 15.4 points per game. “It’s been two months now, and it’s slowly getting better.”
The Irish were playing a basketball game at Dayton on Jan. 29 when Baumgart was injured.
“I know from what everyone said, I shouldn’t have been driving in that situation,” Baumgart said. “I planted and my knee twisted and I heard a pop — it was coming back into the socket after it dislocated. But nothing really hurt after I went down. My coach (Tim Duncan) told me he had to walk out slowly because he didn’t know what to say to me. He knew it was my knee. I’m not much of a crier, but I lost it a little bit. My coach wouldn’t let me try and walk; I had to be carried off the court.”
I have never been so bored before in all my life, and cranky. I’ve been binge watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. I have enjoyed it, I’m not going to lie.
Emily Baumgart on being inactive with a knee injury
DeSales golf coach Lon Olson was officiating the game when his star player got hurt.
“I watched her go down. She did nothing out of the ordinary,” Olson said. “She just must have turned enough for it to go. Her high school career is over, but she still has an encouraging college career in front of her.”
It also was a night when her soon-to-be Washington State University golf coaches had come to watch her play.
“That was the worst part of it all,” Baumgart said. “I don’t regret playing (basketball). I learned a lot as an athlete this year, and I think it will help me over the years in golf. Even when I was hurt, I enjoyed watching everyone play.”
WSU has been helping Baumgart with her recovery. WSU team doctor Edwin Kingstad did her surgery and will help with her therapy this summer.
“I’m working on a six-month recovery program,” said Baumgart, who hopes to ditch the crutches by the end of the week. “I will do a summer bridge program for (WSU) student athletes. Most golfers don’t do it, but I have a special case. I will be able to do therapy with their trainers and therapists.”
Not playing golf is one thing, but sitting still has been hard for Baumgart.
“I have never been so bored before in all my life, and cranky,” she said. “I’ve been binge watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. I have enjoyed it, I’m not going to lie.”
Baumgart burst onto the golf scene her eighth grade year. Going to a private school, eighth graders are eligible to play high school sports. She placed second at state as an eighth grader and as a freshman.
She won her first state title by 42 strokes as a sophomore, and won by 18 strokes last year.
She also has been a regular — with great success — on the Washington Junior Golf Association circuit for years.
“Emily is very, very special, no doubt,” said Olson, who is in his 21st season with the Irish. “She is a good kid and hasn’t let (her success) go to her head. It has been a great journey. I have had a couple of other quality girls in Megan Stull (8th at state in 2004) and Madeleine Roach (9th at state in 2008), but Emily has been my top girl.”
Baumgart’s older brother, Ryan, is on the men’s golf team at WSU, while younger brother Matt, who is a sophomore at DeSales, is playing baseball this spring.
“Ryan has had some back issues since high school, and that has held him back from being able to play as much as he’d like,” Emily said. “Matt giving up golf was heartbreaking. He was a good golfer. I don’t think he wanted to be like Ryan and me. He wanted to forge his own path.”
Emily and Ryan parlayed their love of golf into jobs last June, working at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
“It was a lot of fun,” Emily said. “It was nice hanging out with him. We are both golfers, and we can talk about that stuff together. We carried the score signs for the groups. It’s a hard course to walk, but it was fun to watch those great players up close.”
There are those who feel the same way watching Baumgart play.