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August 6, 2009

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Golfer Emily Gimpel excels on and off the course

At the 2009 Media Day event arranged by the U.S. Golf Association, Emily Gimpel and her father,John, met up with Donald Trump at his course in Bedminster, N.J.

Although school’s not in session, summer is an active period for many student athletes, and Lafayette Hill golfer Emily Gimpel is no exception. A former Springside School student who’s now a rising senior at Mount St. Joseph Academy, Gimpel spent much of her summer break competing in tournaments on the challenging American Junior Golf Association circuit.

On July 20 she won a local tournament at Sandy Run Golf Club, but she said that her best performance was “probably at the North South Amateur Championships in Pinehurst, NC. I shot 76, 76, 77 [on the par-72 course] and I got 10th.”

Gimpel received the greatest recognition for her achievements off the course. The local linkster is the founder of a charitable organization called Junior Golf Clubs Cancer, and on July 3 at the Rolex Dinner of Champions, she received the President’s Leadership Award that is presented annually by the AJGA in conjunction with the U.S. Golf Association.

She was also selected to be interviewed for the USGA’s archival video series, “The Voices of Golf.” Gimpel was one of only two junior golfers picked to participate in the project, which will include segments featuring Tiger Woods and other legendary players. The finished film will be catalogued in the U.S. Library of Congress.

She attended the USGA’s Media Day at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, NJ, and even got to meet the owner, Donald Trump.

Gimpel launched Junior Golf Clubs Cancer five years ago, collecting discarded and donated golf clubs, then selling them and directing the proceeds to the Foundation for Children at St. Christopher’s Hospital, where one of her cousins was successfully treated for leukemia.

Her cousin, who lives nearby in Flourtown, contracted the disease as an infant. The disturbing news struck home for Gimpel, whose younger sister, Clare, is the same age. Aware of the high cost of treatment and of developing new technology to combat the disease, Gimpel and some of the friends she plays with at Whitemarsh Valley Golf Club brainstormed about how they could help.

“We thought, ‘What do people do with their old clubs when they buy new ones?’“ she recalled. “We started to collect them and a lot of them were still in really good condition. At first we were selling them to golf retail stores, and then we started selling them on eBay, as well. The clubs that didn’t have much resale value we donated to The First Tee of Montgomery County. They provide clubs to people who have trouble affording them or who are just starting out, so that will help more juniors get involved in the game of golf.”

At present, her organization has raised $40,000, and that figure will be supplemented by the proceeds from the Third Annual JGCC Adult/Junior Golf Tournament, which will be held on August 28 at Whitemarsh Valley.

“Everyone at Whitemarsh has been really supportive,” noted Gimpel, who lives within walking distance of the course. “A lot of people who want to help contact me directly, and other people just drop clubs off at Whitemarsh and say ‘These are for Emily.’ “

Gimpel attended Springside School up through eighth grade, and was a member of the Lions’ first interscholastic golf team when the Girls Inter-Ac League officially adopted the sport in the spring of 2006. As a freshman at Mount St. Joe’s that fall, she was a member of the Magic’s PIAA State Champion squad, the first MSJ team to win a state title in any sport. The Magic repeated as champs the following season, and were the state runners-up in 2008.

“This summer,” she noted, “I’ve played against the best competition I’ve faced in my life. When you play against people like that I think you learn from them and you elevate your own game.”

The toughest tournament on her summer schedule was played close to home at Malvern’s White Manor Golf Club. This was the McDonald’s Betsy Rawls Girls Championship, held July 14-16 and featuring an international array of rising junior stars. On the opening day, Gimpel recorded a pair of birdies and scored an 80 on the par-71 course. Her scores weren’t quite as good the next two days, and she finished 64th overall.

The field at White Manor was replete with golfers from the traditional sun-drenched proving grounds of California, Florida, and Arizona. The defending Pennsylvania state champion, Kennett’s Christine Shimel, was one of just four Pennsylvanians competing, and she finished in a four-way tie for 27th place. A 13-year-old from Orlando, Yueer “Cindy” Feng, won the event with a two-under total score of 211 (73-67-71). Feng, who played in the 2009 U.S. Open, moved to Florida four years ago from her native China.

There were a number of other foreign players at the tourney who had relocated to the U.S. to pursue the sport. On the last day of the event, Gimpel played alongside Florida resident Shannon Aubert, who grew up in Switzerland and whose parents are French, and Sunshine Baraquiel, a native of the Philippines who now lives in California.

Throughout the summer, Gimpel said, “My chipping, pitching, and long putting was as good as it’s ever been. Even in the big tournaments I felt my short game was as good as anyone out there, so that helped give me confidence.”

Gimpel wants to continue playing golf in college, and plans to select a school sometime this fall. In the classroom, she enjoys history and Spanish, but she’s not yet sure where that will lead her in terms of a college major.

In golf, her immediate focus is on her final season at Mount St. Joe, which begins on August 25 with a match against Athletic Association of Catholic Academies rival Villa Joseph Marie. The Magic have won the league eight years in a row, but their ultimate goal is to claim the PIAA title for the third time in four seasons.

“It’d be great to win another state championship my senior year, and I think we could have a really good team this season,” she said. “A lot of the girls have been playing over the summer, and I’ve heard we have some good incoming freshmen, as well.”

Contact Junior Golf Clubs Cancer at 215- 836-1264




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