Feb. 10, 2014
Former Auburn golfer Danielle Downey will be remembered at a memorial service Thursday at Auburn Arena.
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – In the darkest days of Auburn women’s golf coach Kim Evans’ life, Danielle Downey was there. When Evans was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Downey was there to hold Evans’ team together, to run errands, to bring food or to just listen.
“She was amazing,” Evans said. “She took care of our girls and our program and helped keep our program going. She took me to blood transfusions, ran errands, walked dogs, whatever. I could just about call her for anything, and she was there. It was hard on her because she was so worried about me.”
So it was the call Evans got on the night of Jan. 30 that was so crushing that the pain and sadness will never really go away. Downey, who played and coaches for Evans and had become director of golf operations, had been killed in a single-car accident. She was 33.
“It was a really amazingly tough for me and all of us,” Evans said. “We were just heartbroken. It’s a hard call to get and hard to see her family go through it and our team go through it.
“She just was pure of heart. She just had a big heart for everyone. Everyone loved her. She had a big loyalty thing for people. You could tell her anything. She was just a great friend. She would do anything for anybody.”
At Downey’s funeral in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y., an overflow crowd turned out to say goodbye. In her adopted a hometown, a memorial service is set for 3 p.m. Thursday at on the scholarship terrace at Auburn Arena.
Downey played at Auburn from 1999-2003, earning All-America honors in 2000, 2002 and 2003. She was All-SEC all four years, earning first-team honors three times. She won the individual SEC Tournament championship in 2000 and led Auburn to SEC team championships in 2000 and 2003.
Following her Auburn career, Downey played on the LPGA and Futures Tours. She finished her professional career as a caddy on the LPGA Tour.
She returned to Auburn as a student to finish her degree and graduated last May. When Evans was unable to travel to the NCAA Championship, Downey stood in for her, and the Tigers finished No. 6 nationally. Along the way, she developed a bond with Auburn players.
“She didn’t just push herself on people,” Evans said. “She allowed them to be themselves. I think she became really important to them individually. I think each of them developed a great relationship. It just blindsided them. It was hard on them. They’ve been through a lot. More than most.”
A memorial fund has been set up to benefit Auburn golf teams. Checks can be written to Tigers Unlimited with “In memory of Danielle Downey” in the memo section.
“It’s hard to believe she’s gone,” Evans said, “but I'm celebrating her life. I'm glad I was able to get to know her and her family. I am grateful for the time that we had her."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: