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GIRLS' GOLF

Rolling Along

Golfer on Course to Succeed Despite Her Reliance on Cart

October 17, 2000|PETER YOON

Allison Schauppner wants to walk the course like everyone else, and almost gave up golf because she couldn't.

But she decided that riding in a cart while playing would be better than quitting, even if it meant extra attention. Even if it drew criticism. Even if it meant petitioning the Southern Section for permission.

Schauppner, a senior and the top player for seventh-ranked Corona del Mar, suffers from a bone disorder and cannot walk sustained distances without severe pain in her knees.

Her condition, called Osteochondritis Dissecans, causes fragments of bone to detach from her femur (thigh bone) near the knee joint. Those loose fragments cause knee buckling, knee locking and tremendous pain.

Schauppner had a quarter-sized fragment removed from one knee and a dime-sized fragment removed from the other in June, but the bone will take at least a year to fully regenerate and allow her to walk without pain.

"I wish I could walk," Schauppner said. "People question whether I really need the cart and I don't like the questions that I get. Some people just aren't nice about it."

They say that she is lazy and that she could walk if she really wanted to.

"I don't want that title," she said. "Sometimes it's hard, but I just want to play golf."

It's not always easy. Corona del Mar Coach Mike Starkweather said that even with the surgery, he has watched her battle through pain.

"When she has to hit off an uneven lie, it's really bad," Starkweather said. "She'll come off of shots grimacing in pain. It can be tough to watch."

Which makes Schauppner's performances even more remarkable.

Last year, the section granted her permission to use a cart and she played with the detached bone still in her knees. She was third behind University's Angela Won and Sunny Lee in the Pacific Coast League individual tournament and shot a team-best 83 in the section team finals. Corona del Mar finished seventh.

After the June surgery, Schauppner was unable to walk, let alone play golf, all summer. The first time she hit a ball was at a Corona del Mar practice in August, and her first round was the team's first match in September. She shot 45.

"She was very depressed," said Susan Schauppner, Allison's mother. "She didn't know if she wanted to keep playing. I think it's surprised her how well she's done."

She is averaging about 42 for nine holes this season and has steadily improved since that opening round, breaking 40 twice in the last two weeks.

Southern Section Commissioner Jim Staunton said Schauppner broke new ground by riding in a cart last year and expects that she will be allowed to ride in the playoffs again based on a doctor's evaluation of the surgery.

"She's not limping and hobbling around, but according to a doctor, she needs at least a year for the surgery to heal over and for her to be pain-free," Staunton said. "She probably will be allowed to play, but we reserve the right to get a second opinion."

Schauppner hopes to continue her playing career in college, but said because she didn't play over the summer, not a lot of college coaches know about her.

But armed with an impeccable golf swing she developed with her father Tom Schauppner, head PGA professional at the Long Beach Golf Learning Center, and tremendous athleticism, Allison would be a positive addition to any college team, Starkweather said.

"She's a great athlete," he said. "If she didn't have the bad knees, we'd lose her to another sport for sure. When she gets well, she'll easily shoot in the 70s."

Schauppner's 22-year-old sister, Kristina, suffers from the same condition. Kristina had the operation on one of her knees four years ago and is now jogging regularly, which gives Allison hope.

"I think, eventually, I'll be OK," Allison said. "It just gets a little frustrating at times."

LOOKING AHEAD

Top-ranked University and second-ranked Villa Park meet Thursday in a battle between the only undefeated county teams. The match is at 2:30 p.m. at Green River in Corona. . . . Dana Hills looks to avenge its only South Coast League loss when the Dolphins take on San Clemente at 3 p.m. Thursday at Monarch Beach.

If you have an item or idea for the Girls' Golf report, you can fax us at (714) 966-5663 or e-mail us at peter.yoon@latimes.com

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