Sept. 16, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
In the sports arena the Georgia Tech-Georgia rivalry is referred to as “clean, old-fashioned hate” and can stir up tremendous passion.
Former Georgia Tech golfer Adam Cohan believes that passion — with the hate toned down just a little — can be used to benefit the greater good.
On Tuesday, Sept. 30 at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, former Yellow Jackets golfers Roberto Castro and Cameron Tringale and former University of Georgia golfers Chris Kirk and Russell Henley will tee it up in a team head-to-head competition in the inaugural Cohan Cup.
The winning team takes home the hardware, not to mention some bragging rights, but the real winner is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society® (LLS), for which the foursome has been raising money and to which all proceeds from the event will go.
Cohan, the namesake of the trophy and the brainchild of the event, is a former Yellow Jackets golfer, who was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago. His leukemia is in remission, he is living a healthy life (having recently gotten engaged), and is on a mission of his own, fundraising for LLS.
“I got pretty active in fundraising last year in something they have called `Light The Night Walk,'” said Cohan, who played on the Tour for a couple of years following his graduation in 2007, until his diagnosis. “I did it because I wanted to be involved in helping them out.”
To that end, Cohan came up with the idea for the event. He borrowed the format he saw PGA Tour pro Jim Furyk use in a fundraiser in Philadelphia. The rivalry was the perfect hook.
“I think Georgia-Georgia Tech plays nicely because it’s a natural rivalry,” he said. “We really don’t have an event like this that showcases past alumni that are currently on the Tour playing head to head. When I was in school the Georgia-Georgia Tech Golf rivalry was huge.”
Cohan ran the idea by Castro and Tringale, two of his closest friends in college, and, of course, they got on board.
“Adam was diagnosed about two years ago and he’s doing really well, which is awesome,” said Castro. “The main reason I’m getting behind this so strongly is that 10 years ago this would have been a totally different story for him, but with the new treatments, he’s living a really healthy and happy life.
“Last year we raised some money with the Light The Night Walk, which is a huge event that LLS does,” he added. “This year, we were like, `What can we do with the golf contacts that we have?’ Then we were like, `Let’s take it a step further. What can we do with the fact that there are eight Georgia Tech players and eight Georgia players on tour, roughly, guys that we grew up with and are buddies with. How do we leverage that into making some money?’ Adam’s definitely the ring leader and it’s just kind of grown from there.”
Getting the former Bulldogs in was easy. Cohan and Castro credit the communal nature of their sport.
“The people you meet, and the players, they’re competitive but it’s the kind of sport where you walk alongside these people and play with them and chat about non-golf things,” said Cohan. “In any other sport you really can’t walk with your competitor. The relationships with these guys, you get to know them forever and golf, especially in competitive golf, it’s kind of a small world. You see them all over and they really become friends of yours, even if you weren’t on the same team.”
“Kirk was the first one to get on board and really got this thing off the ground with us because without one Georgia guy committing we wouldn’t have been able to get it done,” said Castro. “I think it’s an easy sell. It’s like, `Hey, we can raise a bunch of money and it’s going to be a really fun day. I think all four of us are really like, `Man, this is going to be really good.’ The golf will be the main event.”
The players are worthy of a main event. In fact, the college careers of all five golfers involved, including Cohan, are intertwined. Cohan played from 2006 through 2009, teaming two years with Castro (2004-07) and all four years with Tringale. Castro was a four-time All-American (one first-team, one second-team, two honorable mentions) and All-ACC his four years at Tech, as was Tringale (one first-team, two second-team, one honorable mention All-America honors), in his four years (2006-09).
On the Georgia side, Kirk was a three-time All-American (two first-team, one second-team) from 2004-07, who also played junior with Cohan and Castro. He and Castro knew each other early on, as Castro grew up in Alpharetta, while Kirk was raised in Woodstock. Henley, who played at UGA from 2007-11 and was a four-time All-American (one first-team, two-time second team, one honorable mention), played with the Bulldogs against Tringale and Cohan for two years.
Castro has no doubt that the reunion will bring back plenty of memories, but adds that once they tee off, it’s on — Georgia Tech-Georgia style.
“It’s going to be cool to kind of get that vibe back because we were two of the top teams,” he said. “It’s going to feel like old college days when we tee it up there.”
Thus far, the response heading into the event has been positive.
“We’ve raised about $50,000 so far and we still have some other commitments,” said Cohan. “We’re working hard to market this on Twitter and online and different web sites and publications. There have been some prominent golf writers that have talked about it, Golf Channel has had a thing on it on Morning Drive, Stewart Cink, guys are really getting behind it. We’re trying to get him out there for event day. Just spreading the word around Georgia, Georgia Tech and other college golf programs.”
Castro believes the sky is the limit for what will hopefully be an annual fundraiser.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” he said. “It’s unique to Georgia because we have so many players on Tour, and because the alumni bases are so active and so supportive. So far, we’ve exceeded our expectations and people’s responses have been great. Once we have a year in the books and have some photos and built some buzz I think the alumni bases are really going to get behind it. It’s a unique deal to pull for your school out there. When the match starts, it’s going to be competitive but at the end of the day, we’re there to raise money for LLS. So it’s really the best of both worlds.”
“Maybe 10, 12 years ago, this disease was pretty much like a life sentence. People were given three or four years to live,” he said. “Just the fact that it’s come that far that people with the disease I have can live what they think is going to be a full life, just depending on the trajectory they’re on with finding treatments, that’s kind of their goal. There are other strains of the disease that are not as successful yet but they’re definitely getting there. I think that’s what prompted us to get behind this and why guys like Roberto and so many others are so into the cause. There are a lot of ways to improve treatment out there and a lot of hope for what’s going on.”
For more information on the Cohan Cup, including ticket information and where to donate, please visit http://www.lls.org/pages/ga/cohancup.
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