OU women’s golfer fights on


Senior Reporter

One look at Lindsay Scarlatelli and she appears to be a normal 19-year-old girl with a passion for sports. 

As member of the women’s golf team,  a manager for the women’s basketball team her freshman year and part of her sophomore year and all-around avid sports fan, Scarlatelli dreams about one day becoming a college basketball coach. 

You’d never know just by looking at Scarlatelli that she has a form of cancer growing on her eyes.

In August 2000, at 11 years old, Scarlatelli was diagnosed with lymphoid hyperplasia in her left eye. After having it successfully removed, it came back almost two years later in May 2002, this time on both eyes and eyelids. 

Six years later in 2008, the cancer remains, but Scarlatelli has continued to live her life as if nothing had ever happened.

“My parents always stressed academics, so when I was younger, my appointments were always around school,” said Scarlatelli. “Unfortunately, some of the hospital visits were at five or six in the morning or late at night, but they wanted to keep everything as normal as possible for me.”

At a young age, Scarlatelli turned to sports as a coping mechanism. She started playing basketball when she was three, and golf as soon as she could hold a club. She didn’t give up on either as she battled through uncertain times.

“I played basketball year-round and it felt like I was always turning to a basketball court because it took my mind off things,” she said. “Golf was also a big stress reliever. At the time, I didn’t have a coach telling me what to do, what I had to shoot. I just went out there, did whatever I wanted to do, hit what I wanted to hit in a stress-free environment.”

Her passion for basketball has steered Scarlatelli to pursue a career as a college basketball coach, and she seems to be taking steps in the right direction. 

Through the women’s basketball team, she’s been able to make contacts with coaches across the country to network and hopefully get her foot in the door.

“I still e-mail a couple head coaches once a month, just to network, and a few have offered to help me out if I need it,” Scarlatelli said. “A couple coaches have said they’d love for me to come work their basketball camps over the summer, so that’s something I’m looking forward to this summer, going out to Arizona and helping them out.”

Still considered a walk-on to the golf team at OU, Scarlatelli’s golf career may be in jeopardy in the future because of a potentially career-ending back injury. 

She tore a disc, herniated a disc and lost water in another. The torn disc is what worries doctors the most. 

“Doctors think it is from the constant banging in basketball from high school as well as from golf and the pressure I put on my back,” she said. 

“The torn disc is what is the career ending part because the doctors are worried about it tearing completely and causing a chain reaction of problems in my back.”

She has yet to be cleared to finish up the conference portion of the golf season this spring, but still has a positive outlook on life.

“I believe everything happens for a reason,” Scarlatelli said. “I love life, I enjoy living. I take everything one day at a time. Some days are better than others, but I think everyone has their fair share of bad days,” she added.

There is still a possibility that the lymphoid hyperplasia can come back later in life, as it’s more common in adults over the age of 40 than in young kids, but her team of 12 doctors is not sure if and when it will come back and what would happen.

In the meantime, Scarlatelli does not make a big deal about her condition and says only her closest friends know what she went through as a kid.

“I definitely don’t want sympathy or attention for it, it’s not something I want to define me or people to feel bad for me for,” she said. “Even growing up, I never let it interfere with being a normal kid and doing normal things. I’ve gotten past it, I’m bigger than it.”